The Nationals WA have hit out at the Federal Government’s proposal to delay the controversial Backpacker Tax, calling it a “band-aid solution.”
Senate candidate Kado Muir said the delay in implementing the Backpacker Tax from July 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017, would only cause more uncertainty for regional industries and seasonal workers.
“The Backpacker Tax will discourage working-holiday makers from travelling to Australia, it will reduce the availability of seasonal-workers in regional WA and it will damage the agricultural and horticultural industries,” Mr Muir said.
“In many respects, the damage has already been done. Backpackers are already looking elsewhere for their working-holidays, and regional communities will be left struggling to find workers to harvest crops or help out in the local café.”
Mr Muir said the Federal Government had failed regional communities by pushing forward with the tax.
“The Federal Government still has every intention of implementing the tax in 2017, they are just scared to take the issue into the election, because they know it’s poor policy.
“The six-month extension is merely a band-aid solution because Liberal MPs and Senators are taking a beating on this issue in regional WA,” Mr Muir said.
“The Backpacker Tax shouldn’t be delayed. It should be scrapped completely.”
“The Nationals WA have a clear policy on the Backpacker Tax. We don’t support it on July 1, 2016 and we won’t support it on January 1, 2017 either.”
Mr Muir said he would also call on the Federal Government to provide additional funding to Tourism WA to develop a campaign to entice seasonal workers back to regional WA.
“A campaign needs to be developed and marketed to international workers letting them know the Backpacker Tax is off the table and that we will continue to welcome them to Western Australia.”
Member for North West Central, Vince Catania MLA, said every aspect of the tax had been poorly conceived.
“For the Federal Government to ask us to trust them for a further six months after they have completely mismanaged the issue is a bridge too far in my view,” Mr Catania said.
“The only acceptable outcome is to completely get rid of the Backpacker Tax, and The Nationals WA are the only party who can guarantee that.
“Virtually every dollar earned by seasonal workers is reinvested into regional communities, which has a far greater net benefit to regional WA than any funds raised by a Backpacker Tax could deliver.”
Member for Pilbara, Brendon Grylls MLA, also lent his voice to the campaign against the Backpacker Tax.
“Backpackers are a critical part of the labour mix in Northern Australia,” Mr Grylls said.
“Without them the coffee doesn’t get served, the beer doesn’t get pulled and the bananas don’t get picked.”
“The economic growth of regional WA is tied to this labour, and the Backpacker Tax will stop seasonal workers choosing to visit regional WA.”
“The Backpacker Tax needs to be scrapped,” Mr Grylls said.