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



Grevillea Gardens to lose $1.6m under proposed cuts

Federal funding is in question with proposed cuts.

Propsed Federal funding cuts would have a devastating impact on care

Can we trust them?

Women writing on paper with a pen on a white background.

Colin Claridge thinks the gene pool of good leadership is drying up

Geocaching an experience

DEADLY: This frog looked much bigger and life threatening in person. Hey, don't judge me.

Like Scott of the Antartic, Bruce heads out to do some exploring.

Local Partners

Lady Gaga confirms Super Bowl show

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga to perform in coveted spot

Girls actors give emotional tributes to hit show

Actor Allison Williams

Actors farewell smash hit HBO show Girls after six seasons

Janet Jackson's pregnancy is 'best thing'

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson can't wait to become a mum

Jay Z signs two-year movie and TV deal

Rapper Jay Z

Rapper Jay Z has signed a television and movie deal

Nowhere to Hyde: Matt Nable is Australia's man in demand

Matt Nable stars as Detective Gary Hyde in the TV series Hyde & Seek.

NABLE returns to the small screen amidst busy film work.

Marvel's Luke Cage S1E7: Manifest review

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage. Supplied by Netflix.

*WARNING: spoilers if you haven't seen Marvel's Luke Cage*

Builder and roofer are cleared in faded roof case

CLEARED: a Gympie builder has been cleared of blame for sunscreen damage to a roof.

Gympie builder cleared over sunscreen damage claim

Beach-side real estate starts at $85k on Fraser Coast

HERVEY BAY REAL ESTATE: You can buy this townhouse in Scarness for under $300k.

Live your beach-living dream locally.

Gympie Century 21 owner forges his own path

ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS: Billy Mitchell (right) with Queensland franchise manager at Century 21, Glenn Stanton.

It's been a meteoric rise over the past few years for Billy Mitchell

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Huge Gunalda service station set to open by December

NEW STATION: The Gunalda Service Centre, owned by United Petroleum, will include a 350-seat eating area and a truckers lounge.

The massive servo is the biggest United development in Queensland.

Highway upgrade drives momentum in affordable market

Accessibility and affordability are keeping interest high