Push for pickers bears fruit
TASMANIAN fruit growers are confident they will have enough backpackers for the upcoming harvest season despite last year’s tax debacle.
Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Phil Pyke said growers had been spared fallout from the tax farce that threatened to cull numbers of backpackers looking to work picking fruit.
From January 1 the Federal Government introduced a tax rate of 15 per cent on those on working holiday visas.
Farmers feared the original proposed tax rate of 32.5 per cent would deter travellers from coming to Australia.
The grower body says fears have been put to rest. the
“It’s not affecting numbers at this stage, it appears our local growers are quite OK for numbers,” Mr Pyke said.
“It’s estimated about 6,500 backpackers are required during harvest season.”
Mr Pyke said the Federal Government’s seasonal worker incentive trial had struggled to attract people, with only 30 taking part nationally. Tasmania has the highest participation rate with eight people in the trial.
The two-year trial allows people receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance to earn up to $5000 doing harvest work without the income affecting their Centrelink payments.
Recipients can also get up to $300 in allowances for living away from home and travel.
While securing Australian workers is proving difficult, the seasonal worker program for Pacific Islanders is attracting workers form Vanuatu and East Timor to Tasmania.
The federal program brings Pacific Islanders to Australia on special temporary visas.
“It’s the best form of foreign aid and can help with seasonal labour needs,” Mr Pyke said.
Last year Mr Pyke led a delegation from Vanuatu in Tasmania investigating work opportunities.
He said said the state a;lso had its own online project for agricultural jobs, which connects locals, humanitarian entrants and international workers to job opportunities.
Visit www.tasagjobs.com.au for more details.