Backpacker tax rate pretty good

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LABOR has called on reluctant coalition MPs to speak out against the government’s revised backpacker tax arrangements.

But one Liberal believes a lower tax rate than initially planned is appropriate, saying the opposition should get out of the way.

As MPs begin debating government legislation on Monday, South Australian MP Rowan Ramsey admits the original 32.5 per cent tax flagged in the 2015 budget would have done a lot of damage to the industry and the new rate of 19 per cent brings Australia into line with other countries.

Mr Ramsey says hes happy with the result and so is business. Weve got to get it legislated, he told reporters in Canberra.

Labors agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon says the tax is ill-conceived, fearing just as many backpackers will be driven away with the 19 per cent rate.

I call on a divided government to work with the opposition and all stakeholders to produce an outcome which allows Australia to be internationally competitive, he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon warned backpacker numbers started falling away the day the tax was announced and the problem continues.

[Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce] is introducing a tax he knows is going to leave fruit rotting on trees like Tasmania and elsewhere.

But Mr Fitzgibbon conceded the agriculture industry is split on the issue. I want those on the backbench in the government who are privately saying 19 per cent is a bad idea to speak out.

Coalition senator Barry OSullivan has slammed the way his government has handled the reworking of the tax, telling parliament the matter could have been handled better and more promptly.

Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash insisted the government had worked through the issues.

Whats been welcomed is the fact that we have come to a common sense conclusion in relation to the backpacker tax, she told reporters.

She insisted the reworked tax was a great outcome for farmers, businesses and backpackers.