Shadow Tourism Minister Anthony Albanese is the latest to attack the floundering, “botched” backpacker tax. He is demanding a Senate inquiry, and both AFTA and the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) are backing him.
“After 18 months of uncertainty, the Coalition wants to rush its legislative backpacker tax ‘fix’ through the Parliament,” Albanese said yesterday.
“Now the Treasurer and the Government have finally decided how it wants to backflip; it’s expecting the Parliament to pass the legislative package this week.
“We saw when the Government announced the original Backpacker Tax proposal that it completely botched the details and the consultation.
“That cannot be allowed to occur again.”
Albanese said that barely a month ago the Tourism Minister told Parliament that increases in the departure tax – now part of the Government’s new package – were “choking the golden goose that is Australia’s tourism industry”. [Hansard, House of Representatives, 31 August 2016
“Labor will move that this legislative package be referred to the Senate Economics Legislative Committee for a short inquiry to report back in November,” Albanese pledged.
“This genuine and transparent consultation will inform Labor’s final position on the Government’s legislative package.
“The Liberal Party is meant to understand business. The National Party is meant to understand regional Australia. This debacle shows neither claim is true.
“This debacle has been ongoing since the 2015 Budget. The Government has limped along for a year and a half creating further uncertainty for key sectors like tourism and agriculture, which has already seen a clear negative economic impact.
“Labor will finalise its position once we’ve heard from affected stakeholders and explore how the Government’s proposed new regime compares globally.”
The TTF applauded the Federal Labor Opposition’s move for a Senate inquiry into the backpacker tax package.
AFTA said it suppors the Labor stance.
“The Government has shown a complete lack of knowledge and understanding about what is reasonable and the impacts of new taxes on an industry,” said AFTA chief executive, Jayson Westbury.
“Labor is showing that announcing a tax increase with no consultation is not a way to manage the economy especially when the industry has well and truly already ‘washed their face’ by more than AUD 700 million per year.”
TTF chief executive Margy Osmond declared: “Bravo to Shadow Tourism Minister Anthony Albanese and the Labor Opposition for standing up for Australia’s visitor economy and calling for industry consultation via a Senate inquiry.
“The Labor Opposition has recognised that the tourism industry can no longer be treated as a cash cow to prop up the budget but is a serious super-growth sector for the Australian economy that will deliver jobs and economic growth in the decades to come,” Osmond said.
“The holiday tax hike was the sting in the tail of the compromise backpacker tax package that was announced by the Federal Government. It was included without any consultation or forewarning to the tourism industry.”
Written by Peter Needham