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Another bite of the cherry: increased tax on backpackers unfair pickings

GOT THE PIPS: Orchardists are unhappy about tax on pickers.ALMOST 50 per cent of Orange’s fruit picking workforce of overseas backpackers could be turned off if the federal government goes ahead with a plan to increase the tax of holidaying travellers.

Orchardist Tim Hall said 40 per cent of his workforce employed to bring in the fruit harvest are backpackers from overseas who will be affected.

“I don’t see the point in taxing them further,” Mr Hall said.

“They spend their money in Orange on food, accommodation and entertainment, and they don’t take it back home with them – they spend the money and put it into our economy,” Mr Hall said.

In May last year the federal government first flagged its intention to tax the backpacker workforce at a rate of 32.5 cents in the dollar excluding them from the tax-free threshold of almost $20,000.

At the time Orange orchardist and chair of the NSW Farmers’ Association horticulture committee Peter Darley expressed his disappointment at the lack of consultation with growers on an issue which could potentially affect their livelihood.

He said without the assistance of the backpacker workforce, growers would struggle to harvest their crops on time.

Mr Hall said many producers around Orange rely on overseas backpackers to work at harvest time when it can be difficult to engage an adequate workforce.

He said the NSW Farmers’ Association and Apple and Pear Australia are lobbying on behalf of growers to convince the federal government not to go ahead with the plan which the government is hoping will bring in another $540 million to the national treasury.

“I don’t understand why the government doesn’t go after the multi-nationals first instead of targeting the backpackers who don’t have much money,” Mr Hall said.

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