The federal government has acknowledged there are “serious concerns” about a new income tax on backpackers.
Working holiday tourists are set to be taxed 32.5 per cent on every dollar they earn from July 1 and farmers fear it will have a major impact on an agriculture industry that is heavily reliant on seasonal workers.
“We are not putting aside that this is a serious concern – and we’ll get back in due course,” Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
There is growing unrest within the Coalition on the issue.
Nationals MP Andrew Broad has urged the government to reconsider the proposal while retiring Liberal senator Bill Heffernan has warned he will unleash a public campaign against the tax increase.
But Mr Joyce says there’s still time for discussion before the tax comes into effect and a proper assessment will take place.
The National Farmers Federation fears the industry will be crippled without backpackers.
“This is a die-in-the-ditch issue for Australian agriculture,” president Brent Finlay told reporters in Canberra.
“We are hearing that backpackers are telling their friends `Don’t come to Australia’ because they are going to be paying extra cash.”