Backpackers Quentin Jenot and Cristina Pistorio looking online for work, Fremantle
By Hannah Stone
The proposed backpacker tax is being slammed by travellers and there are serious concerns about the impact it could have on immigration and the already declining labour market.
Fremantle has a historic attachment to backpackers and could suffer if the tax goes ahead.
The backpacker tax was initially planned to come into effect in July 2016 and would scrap the $18,200 tax-free threshold and tax backpackers 32.5 cents from every dollar earned.
It’s the second year in Australia for Quentin Jenot from France and Cristina Pistorio from Italy and they have worked many, varying jobs since arriving here, predominantly in farming.
“Taking a third of what we earn is completely unfair and I think what’s going to happen is backpackers are going to look for cash-in-hand jobs and that’s not good for the government and it’s not good for us either,” said Quentin.
“I don’t know why the government is making things harder for us. It seems they maybe want to make less backpackers come to Australia,” said Cristina.
Viola Dudek came to Australia from Germany in 2012 on a working visa and has had a variety of jobs in areas including hospitality and retail.
“If the tax was in place when I arrived it definitely would have affected my life because I would have had to work more just to make up the difference … I might have reconsidered coming here,” said Viola.
According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection there has already been a dramatic decline in the number of workers coming to Australia with 34,000 fewer 417 Visas granted in 2014-15 than 2012-13.
“I worked in a vineyard in Tasmania and the owner told me that it’s going to be very hard for him to find people to work because backpackers are going to run away from those taxes,” said Quentin.
The federal Coalition is currently looking at a compromise to the tax that was announced in the 2015 budget because concerns have been raised over how it will impact on areas such as the hospitality, horticulture and tourism sector.
“I really hope they do the right thing because I won’t pay nearly 33% taxes – that’s just unacceptable,” said Quentin.