Macquarie River irrigators confident of securing backpacker workforce

MOVING FORWARD: Macquarie River Food and Fibre chairman Michael Egan is certain that a 15 per cent backpacker tax would allow growers to attract and retain workers across the summer. Photo: File

MOVING FORWARD: Macquarie River Food and Fibre chairman Michael Egan is certain that a 15 per cent backpacker tax would allow growers to attract and retain workers across the summer. Photo: File

Macquarie River Food and Fibre chairman Michael Egan has welcomed the federal government’s compromise on the backpacker tax that he thinks will get through the Senate.

Mr Egan said taxing backpackers 15 per cent would allow farming enterprises “from Wellington to north of Warren” to attract and retain backpackers across summer.

The Australian Labor Party continues to advocate for 10.5 per cent, but the government appears to have support in the Senate to get 15 per cent approved. “Thank goodness there was common sense at the end of the day because that’s where I thought it should be in the first place,” Mr Egan said. The chairman said at 15 per cent the backpackers would be taxed at the same rate as Australian itinerant workers.  He said the backpackers took up the unskilled and manual jobs that “we always have trouble trying to fill”.

Mr Egan said the government would have to “find other avenues” to recoup the $120 million the revised tax would cost the federal budget across four years. “The policy is where it should be,” he said.

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