News

Changes to the "backpacker economy" would hurt Gympie

Will Taunton - Bernet general manager from Visit Oz. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times
Will Taunton - Bernet general manager from Visit Oz. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times Renee Albrecht

MANY Gympie region farming and tourism enterprises would suffer under planned taxation changes affecting the backpacker economy, it was claimed yesterday.

Will Taunton-Burnet, of Goomeri's VisitOz backpacker training farm, said backpacker labour kept many small farms afloat, especially orchards and other seasonal operations in the Gympie region.

The Cooloola Coast tourism economy would miss them too, if planned tax changes make them reconsider their visit to Australia.

That was the real risk from Turnbull Government plans to introduce a 32.5% no-threshold tax on working holidaymakers, he said.

At present, many Australian backpackers get full tax refunds because they earn less than the $18,200 a year income tax threshold.

Foreign backpackers pay only 13% tax up to the threshold.

Mr Taunton-Burnet said this meant their tax instalments are often refunded after they return home.

A simple improvement that would make everyone better off, including the government, would be to not tax them in the first place for refundable amounts, allowing them to spend the money while they are still here.

That would benefit tourism businesses and generate extra tax payments on extra income from tourist operators.

"We've got about 2000 farms on our books and we refer backpacker clients to them," Mr Taunton-Burnet said.

"We meet and greet at Brisbane airport, take them to the beach for a few days, then train them in rural employment skills at Goomeri, before helping them find a job," he said.

"They put their effort into the farming economy and then spend their money visiting places like Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island.

"Then they would probably front up for another temporary farm job to finance their next break."

"The main thing is the proposed changes will end up putting less money in the backpacker's pocket," he said.

"The knock-on effect of that is they will not spend it in the local Australian economy."

He called for "some mechanism that would encourage them to spend their money in Australia, doing all the wonderful things that can be done here, rather than taking that money overseas and having it as a sort of post-visit refund.

"The vast majority of backpackers come here for a working holiday.

"They work, learn skills and grow up as well as having a holiday.

"It's important to the economy from two perspectives.

"They provide labour for

the farming sector and customers for tourism.

"It's a double win in that they put their economic effort into rural industries and then spend the proceeds on tourist industries."

Gympie Regional Council tourism councillor Julie Walker said overseas backpackers brought more than mere economic benefits.

"It brings diversity and culture into an area, all those different types of people from different parts of the Earth. It's great to have them here."

Rainbow Beach business operator Ruth Modin has also often praised the contribution of backpackers outside of their economic contribution.

"They keep us young," she said during a recent holiday season.

Cr Walker said many farming operations depended on seasonal workers.

 

Gympie Times

Topics:  economy, tourism




August entertainment at the Gympie RSL

Great acts are set to continue rocking the mic at the Gympie RSL in August.

Cold nights are set to warm up with entertainment at the Gympie RSL

Winter Essentials

Check out these five winter essentials to help you not only survive but thrive in the cold.

Feeling the cold? Maybe you need to pick up these five products.

A tribute to Betty's legacy of flowers and friendship

Gympie Horticultural Society. NINE DECADES YOUNG: Betty Cockburn cuts her birthday cake at the Gympie Municipal Horticultural Society meeting in Mike and Mavis Silvers' Wolvi garden.
Photo Contributed

Betty Cockburn passes away aged 91

Latest deals and offers

#SaveMarinaJoyce: How ISIS theory took over youtube channel

One young Youtuber accidentally gave rise to a conspiracy theory

Talking whiskey with Jack Daniel’s master distiller

It all comes down to the distillery

SIXTY MILES AHEAD sign with Eclipse Records, prepare new album 'Insanity'

Sixty Miles Ahead sign with Eclipse. Photo Contributed

Sixty Miles Ahead to release new album on Eclipse

Thy Art Is Murder are killing it

See Thy Art is Murder on their killer tour happening right now. Photo Contributed

We talk with Thy Art is Murder about touring, babies, and new music

Date announced for Prince tribute concert

A Prince tribute concert will take place later this year

Matt Damon is taking a break from acting

Matt Damon is taking a break to spend time with his family

Queensland's $1 town goes under the hammer today

The township of Yelarbon is up for sale.

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Is Gympie having a building boom?

There is plenty of building activity happening around the Gympie region.

New home approvals for Gympie region double

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley