CONGRATULATIONS must go to Border Force officials on the successful apprehension of dodgy labour hire contractors in Bowen, some who were sourcing illegal workers and sending sizeable sums of money offshore. Some of the ringleaders of a labour hire racket were seized last week; it appears there were four dodgy contractors and two illegal workers apprehended and they are now in immigration detention.
WITH the sugar industry facing tonnage losses of between 20 and 40 per cent across the Proserpine, Mackay and Plane Creek districts, as well as Bowen district vegetable growers estimating a $100 million loss, I'm urging the State Government to lodge the request for the next level of NDRRA funding. This would provide primary producers with individual grants of between $10,000 and $25,000 to aid their recovery from Cyclone Debbie damage. Although the assessment of crop damage is still ongoing, some growers in the hardest hit areas of Proserpine have losses of 50 per cent of their crop, and in Mackay and Plane Creek the damage is extensive with estimates of losses of 20 per cent.
The concerns of those in the horticultural industry have been heard, and the plan to introduce a 15% flat rate of tax for backpackers will now face a full review. Tourism Minister Richard Colbeck has announced a cross-department review so that we can take a long hard look at the issues surrounding the so-called ‘backpacker tax’ to make sure that we do not disadvantage growers who have been relying on backpackers to harvest their crops. I have had numerous phone calls and meetings with those in the horticultural industry, and I agreed to support the Bowen Gumlu growers in their push for a 15% flat rate of tax, rather than the proposed 32.5c tax for every dollar earned for those on working holiday visas.