17 November 2016
Media Release - #2016101, 2016

In the role of: Minister for Revenue and Financial Services [19 July 2016 - 28 August 2018]

A fortnight is a long time in politics

Bill Shorten has had an epiphany following the US election. In just two weeks he’s gone from being Australia’s leading campaigner for more foreign workers to now having launched his anti-foreign worker campaign, according to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer.

“Just a fortnight ago Mr Shorten was arguing in favour of giving foreign backpacker workers a tax break not available to Australian workers to increase the number of foreign workers coming to Australia,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

“Mr Shorten argued that foreigner workers on working holiday visas need lower tax rates than Australians so that we are a more attractive work destination.

“Now, following Mr Trump’s victory in the US elections, Mr Shorten is suddenly against foreign workers and wants a crackdown on 457 visas.

“The hypocrisy and opportunism is breathtaking, and the only explanation in the change in a fortnight must be the perceived interpretation from the US elections that foreign workers are bad.”

Each year about 220,000 working holiday visas are granted compared with less than 55,000 foreign workers granted 457 visas, and that number has fallen considerably since Labor was in office, Ms O’Dwyer said.

“Mr Shorten continues to argue that foreign backpackers should pay a tax rate of just 10.5 per cent – lower than the 19 per cent rate that Australians pay who earn between $18,201 and $37,000,” she said.

“The Government’s changes to the backpacker tax, reducing it from 32.5 per cent to 19 per cent brings makes Australia internationally competitive – Mr Shorten’s special 10.5 per cent rate for foreign backpackers discriminates against Australian workers.

“We cannot have a situation where foreign workers are paying a lower tax rate than Australian workers.

“We are now calling on Mr Shorten to immediately drop his opposition to the Government’s backpacker tax changes to allow certainty for businesses, especially farmers and in the tourism sector who need to plan their labour hiring over the coming months.”