Working Holiday Maker reform package is a “must”

In a speech made before the members of the House of Representatives yesterday, Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker said it was critical the Working Holiday Maker Reform package was passed by the Senate to give local farmers and tourism operators certainty.

Mr Hartsuyker said that if the package, which passed through the lower house yesterday, was not passed by the Senate in a timely manner the 19 per cent tax rate may not come into effect for the peak tourism and harvest period.

The Labor Opposition last week sent the Bill to a Senate committee which has created uncertainty for local businesses.

“There are many primary producers and tourism operators on the Mid North Coast who rely on backpackers to maintain their operations at peak times throughout the year,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

Speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday, Mr Hartsuyker said:

“Labor’s plans to delay this package of reforms will just create uncertainty for farmers, processors and tourism operators throughout the Cowper electorate.”

The NSW Farmers’ Association issued a statement that its members could not wait until the end of the year, or even next year, for a resolution on the issue citing there is no justification for any further delays.

Chris Nelson, owner of Stuarts Point agribusiness Coastal Avocados, said that he hires around 50 backpackers a year to help pick and pack produce for distribution around Australia.

“My view is that the Government should be doing what it can to expand the "working holiday" base to increase the numbers coming,” Mr Nelson said.

“The vast majority of the kids spend their earnings on travel and entertainment while still in the country.

“They're not tied to the debt and savings regime that many Australians are, and so spend their earnings freely, driving the economy.”

MP Luke Hartsuyker.

MP Luke Hartsuyker. Pic: PETER GLEESON