Tourist tax slug could affect growers

THERE are fears a new tax hit for working holidaymakers may hurt fruit growers by dissuading some tourists from visiting Australia.

Government backbencher Keith Pitt, Member for Hinkler, said "it was possible" the budget measure could cause some travellers to shy away from choosing to work and travel in Australia.

At present, a working holidaymaker can be treated as a resident for tax purposes if they are in the country for more than six months.

Under the change, working holidaymakers lose a tax-free threshold of almost $20,000 on income earned while working on a 417 visa.

That means fruit pickers in regional areas during harvests would pay tax from the first dollar they earned.

Mr Pitt represents a key Queensland agricultural electorate reliant on tourist workers.

He said yesterday that he had not seen the details of the policy and he wanted an explanation of the budget decision.

Mr Pitt has also been keenly involved in government efforts to crack down on unscrupulous labour-hire firms exploiting such workers.

That issue sparked national concerns when aired on Four Corners a fortnight ago.

Mr Pitt has since established a Facebook campaign, titled "support our backpackers", to demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of farmers are "doing the right thing".

Gympie Times

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