Back­pack­ers will still work de­spite tax

Isis Town and Country - - News - By OWEN JAC­QUES AND JIM ALOUAT

Donna Dun­can A lot of th­ese com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Childers, heav­ily rely on the money back­pack­ers spend in town.

FRUIT-pick­ing back­pack­ers who come to Childers on a work­ing hol­i­day will be taxed from the first dollar they earn un­der a new bud­get pro­posal that shows the gov­ern­ment is leav­ing no stone un­turned in find­ing funds.

How­ever, Childers Fruit and Veg­etable Grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary and lo­cal farmer Donna Dun­can does not be­lieve this will lead to less back­pack­ers com­ing to the re­gion.

Up un­til now, vis­i­tors could be treated as Aus­tralians un­der the tax rules if they were in the coun­try for more than six months. That meant they could earn up to $18,200 with­out con­tribut­ing to gov­ern­ment cof­fers.

Un­der the new plan, th­ese ad­ven­tur­ing tourists would be treated as “non-res­i­dents”.

By hit­ting trav­ellers im­me­di­ately with this tax, the gov­ern­ment hopes to fun­nel an ex­tra $540 mil­lion into its cof­fers over five years.

Mrs Dun­can said as long as back­pack­ers were be­ing paid the cor­rect wage then they would be okay.

“Most of the Euro­pean back­pack­ers need to have their re­turn fare paid be­fore they leave,” she said.

“The rest of the money they will spend in the town they live.”

Mrs Dun­can said if back­pack­ers stopped com­ing to Childers then the com­mu­nity would lobby the gov­ern­ment to re­think its pol­icy.

“A lot of th­ese com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Childers, heav­ily rely on the money back­pack­ers spend in town,” she said.

“And the rip­ple ef­fect isn’t just with farm­ers but the en­tire com­mu­nity.”

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