LETTER: Produce will rot without backpackers

BACKPACKERS make a vital contribution to Queensland's rural communities.

Without them many of our farmers will not be able to harvest their crops on time.

Some growers have told me that produce would rot in the ground if there were no international visitors on working holiday visas willing to toil in the hot sun.

So it is little wonder that the Federal Government's backpacker tax, due to start on 1 July, has received such a hostile reception in regional Queensland where, until now, tens of thousands of backpackers have flocked each year to help fund their Australian adventure.

Farmers are worried that the new tax - levied at 32.5c on every dollar earnt - will stem the flow of backpackers to Australia.

There are reports that this is already happening and backpacker numbers are on the decline.

It is not only farmers who are worried about the implications of the backpacker tax.

Last year backpackers spent more than $900 million in Queensland, much of it in the rural communities where they worked.

Hostels, hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries and shops in small towns throughout our state will miss out on those dollars.

Tourism operators are also desperately warning of the consequences.

That is why I asked the Queensland Parliament to support a motion calling on the Turnbull government to abolish the backpacker tax before it does more harm to the state's agricultural and tourism industries.

I am pleased to say that the motion was passed without dissent.

It is now up to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison to take decisive action to meet the expectation from Queenslanders across the political spectrum.

They must respond.


Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries

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