Growers will not be left in limbo
CHANGES in the recent budget have meant even tighter rules for backpackers and some are worried it might put strain on the industry, but one Gayndah grower disagrees.
The tax-free threshold for backpackers was scrapped and some growers are worried it might make it harder to find pickers.
One industry member thinks the change will have no effect.
Gayndah Fruit Growers’ secretary Judy Shepherd said it came down to what motivated backpackers to work.
“Generally they’re working out here because they want a second year visa,” Mrs Shepherd said.
“So they’d do it regardless of the money.”
Although she said backpackers were paid well. Mrs Shepherd said this was not the primary reason foreigners worked as pickers.
“They don’t want to be doing it for no pay, but I don’t think they’re
motivated by that (the money).”
Even with the changes, Mrs Shepherd said backpacker wages were high in the horticultural industry.
“In comparison our wages are anything up to five or six times higher than in other countries,” she said.
“They get paid well.”
She said the industry would not be left in limbo due to the changes because it held a special niche in the market. “If they want to stay in the country for longer, they must work in a locality,” she said.
They don’t want to be doing it for no pay, but I don’t think they’re motivated by that (the money).
She said the guidelines regulating where backpackers could work were “quite strict”.
“They can’t work in a coffee shop at Noosa or even come to Gayndah and work at the pub,” she said.
“I don’t think they (changes in the budget) will have a major effect to be honest.”