Kyabram Free Press - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has backed down – again – in the on­go­ing back­packer tax de­ba­cle.

The re­vised rate now stands at 15 per cent and looks likely to pass in the last min­utes be­fore Par­lia­ment rises for the year – de­spite its fail­ure to garner bi­par­ti­san sup­port.

Mem­ber for Mur­ray Damian Drum said he was con­fi­dent the new rate would go the dis­tance and hoped the end of the saga was near.

“We wanted to have this com­pleted in Oc­to­ber, we felt 19 per cent was a fair rate af­ter con­sul­ta­tions with in­dus­try,”he said.

“La­bor and Jac­qui Lam­bie wanted to drag things out and make it dif­fi­cult for our re­gion’s pro­duc­ers.

“It re­mains to be seen if there’s enough labour. The proof will be in the in­dus­try’s abil­ity to have a suc­cess­ful har­vest.”

Un­dera pro­ducer David Bolitho said he was happy with a lower rate but wasn’t sur­prised the is­sue dragged on for so long.

“When you leave these things in the hands of politi­cians it will al­ways go sour,”he said.

“Some have no idea what goes on in our part of the world. They’re shel­tered from the back­lash and con­se­quences.

“I am hope­ful that I will have enough work­ers but it’s a huge gam­ble.”

Mr Bolitho said he dis­agreed with a dif­fer­ent rate for back­pack­ers and Aus­tralian work­ers.

Fruit Grow­ers Vic­to­ria spokes­woman Julie God­will said the re­vised rate is a re­lief con­sid­er­ing how close the in­dus­try is to be­ing slugged with a de­fault 32.5 per cent tax rate.

“My fear is the dam­age has al­ready been done. Aus­tralia and the in­dus­try has re­ceived so much bad press that it may be too late,’’ she said.

“I’m glad some of the mi­nor par­ties are pay­ing at­ten­tion. The ma­jor par­ties have just used this as a way to score po­lit­i­cal points at the ex­pense of grow­ers.”

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