By DAVID RAK
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.”