The Coalition Government today announced the commencement of a review and public consultation on the broad range of issues affecting the supply and remuneration conditions of labour performed by Working Holiday Maker visa holders.
Assistant Minister Luke Hartsuyker, who has responsibility for agricultural workforce matters, will be leading the review.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton has welcomed the initiative and said it is essential to ensuring the government’s policy settings continue to meet growing demand for flexible labour, particularly in rural and regional Australia.
“Both farmers and tourism operators have expressed strong opinions about the supply and taxation of working holiday visa holders,” Mr Coulton said.
“The proper application of the long-established tax rate of 32.5 per cent for non-residents has been raised as a potential disincentive for backpackers to take on roles that are not being met by Australian workers.
“We have listened to those concerns.
“The government recognises that the 200,000 plus working holiday makers who come here each year are a vital source of labour across the nation, which is why we have deferred for six months implementation of the so-called backpacker tax, pending the outcome of this review.
“To help fully capture the views of both agriculture and tourism sectors, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have been commissioned to lead the public engagement process.”
The review will address the government’s terms of reference, which are focused around four key themes:
1. Australia’s international competitiveness for backpackers
2. seasonal and temporary jobs and projected growth in agriculture and tourism
3. support for small businesses around engaging sea sonal labour, and
4. protections for vulnerable workers.
Mr Coulton said labour supply was a fundamental issue across Parkes, most particularly in the farming sector.
“However, it is equally important that working holiday makers pay a fair level of tax while in Australia. This is a complex issue that goes beyond the tax rate alone,” Mr Coulton said.
“This review will be based on informed understanding not only of the seasonal and temporary labour challenges facing our industries, but also the challenges facing the Australian economy in a global labour market.
“I encourage everyone with an interest in these important issues to get involved.”
Public submissions must be made by Friday, 2 September 2016; for more information or to make a submission, visit agriculture.gov.au/workingholidaymaker
The review’s outcomes will take the form of a government announcement in advance of any changes coming into effect from 1 January 2017.