Workers not happy with unpopular tax
JAMES Lowe came to Australia for our beautiful weather and endless opportunities but he may not stay long - that is, if the backpacker tax goes ahead.
On August 15, a review of the controversial backpacker tax was announced by the Australian Government after the proposed plan sparked public outrage with high concerns for tourism and local farmers.
The backpacker tax would see working holiday makers taxed 32.5% from their first dollar earned, meaning under the 2015-16 Budget measure, most working holidays makers would not be able to access the tax-free threshold.
"We're looking to extend our travel and further explore Australia after this," Mr Lowe said.
"If the tax was to come in and we were to be taxed 32.5% we probably wouldn't extend our stay and look to go to a different country."
Mr Lowe, 26, and his partner, came to Australia in December last year from the United Kingdom and the two have recently started work in the Whitsundays packing capsicums and cucumbers for Phantom Produce Walker Farms in Bowen.
Dawson MP George Christensen said for tourism economies such as the Whitsundays, it was important to ensure backpackers continued to come to the region.
"We want to ensure the backpackers who continue to come here aren't put off that while they're holidaying here they're going to be paying so much tax that's not worth their while," he said.
"Farmers up in Bowen are concerned that hiking up tax will see less backpackers turning up to work and most of these farmers rely on backpackers because they just can't source the labour that's required from anywhere else, which is a bit sad."
Tourism Whitsundays chair Al Grundy said the number of working holiday visas issued in the past 12 months was down by at least 5.4%, according to statistics.
"I believe that's a direct result from the government," he said.
"Two years ago they increased the costs of the working holiday visas and what's happened is a lot of young travellers have selected to go to New Zealand instead."
In Australia, the cost of a working holiday visa is $440 but the cost in New Zealand is $208 - less than half.
Mr Christensen said he would be "really worried" if nothing changed.
"We've already had reports of people getting a bit nervous about this and changing destinations," he said.
"For farms, it can be more devastating because you may have farmers who simply can't harvest their crops because they have no help. It's got to change - it has to."