Thursday 24 November proved to be quite the day for the Backpackers Tax at Parliament House in Canberra.
The debate around the tax has been going on for the last 18 months and now has the Government pitted against the other major parties and Senate cross-bench in a stalemate.
The Government has walked back from the originally announced 33.5 cents in every dollar to 19 cents, after an election campaign pledge to increase consultation and reschedule the start date to 1 January 2017.
The ALP, Senator Lambie, The Greens and a majority of other Senate crossbench members now all support a 10.5 per cent tax rate. On Thursday afternoon the Senate agreed to Senator Lambie’s 10.5 per cent amendment, forcing the bill back down to the Lower House, where the government remained firm in its 19 per cent policy. The Government has previously said that if the 19 per cent tax rate was not approved by the end of the Parliamentary sitting year the original 33.5 per cent tax rate would be implemented from 1 January 2017.
To make matters more interesting Senator Lambie and the ALP have also criticised the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), with Senator Lambie taking on the President-elect of the NFF in apublic argument in a Parliamentary Courtyard in front of the nation’s media.
The Senate also debated the changes to the Passenger Movement Tax this week. The Government was given a second chance to pass the legislation after it was originally voted down in the Senate on Wednesday night when two One Nation senators failed to show up for the vote.
The $5 increase to the tax passed in the second chance vote on Thursday afternoon, but included amendments made by One Nation which will see the implementation of the price increase start in five years’ time.