Sweet victory for Aussie farmers in backpacker tax breakthrough
We promised our farming community that we would deliver an outcome on the backpacker tax - for as long, and as it hard as it took. It’s taken a long time and been very hard, but we have arrived there.
Last week, we had the National Party working for the farmers of Drake making sure we can get blueberries off the field, we had the Liberal Party making sure we can get bananas off the plant at Coffs, we had the Nick Xenophon Party working to get apples off the trees in Orange, and the Greens making sure cherries are picked at Young.
We had every party working for a resolution but one group - the Labor Party who approached this with the worse possible faith.
Labor recruited Jacqui Lambie as its chief economic adviser and sold its soul with a proposal that would have forced Australian workers to be taxed at a higher rate than foreign workers.
We know the uncertainty in regional areas. We felt that uncertainty. We were furious that the Labor Party should have been decent players and said let’s get this thing parked. But they didn’t. All they wanted to do was lead the nation to a fight, not take the nation to a solution. If they were authentic, honest, straight, they would say: "The game's up, let’s do it". But they spent Thursday afternoon on procedural motions trying to blow the show up. And that’s a disgrace.
Labor, through their refusal to compromise due to pure political malice, have proven they don’t care about supporting farmers or regional communities. They see regional Australia as a ball of string for a crazy cat. They just want to play with it.
There was only one group in the place who had no interest in resolution, who were only interested in creating hurt, only interested in creating problems and that’s the Australian Labor Party.
Last Thursday night’s victory, getting the backpacker tax through at 15 per cent, was also a victory for the Parliament of Australia. It shows we can have promising outcomes. It shows that in difficult situations, we are not too proud to go to other parties in good faith and negotiate a solution.
I commend my colleagues in the National Party. I commend the Liberal Party. I commend One Nation. I commend the Greens. I commend the Nick Xenophon Party. I commend the Liberal Democratic Party.
We said we would find a solution and on Thursday, we delivered that solution.
As part of that solution, we will have another $100 million delivered to Landcare Australia. These new arrangements ensure that Australian agriculture and horticulture can have a competitive tax rate for the Working Holiday Markers that does not compromise other important visa classes such as those under the Seasonal Workers Program. We have delivered for our farmers.
We are decentralising, building regional centres of excellence, building mobile phone towers, delivering our largest investment in water infrastructure in Australia’s history, and have now delivered a win on the backpacker tax.