Australian backpackers are not alone in facing long-term financial hardship after the Government scrapped a tax holiday for overseas visitors.
Photo: Daniel Munoz Key points:Treasurer Joe Hockey says backpackers will be “free to spend” in Australia without being taxed The Government has axed a tax incentive for overseas backpackers to visit Australia without paying tax, including those who visit within 12 months The Australian Council of Social Service (ACSS) says it has already seen “an enormous amount of travel” since the tax holiday was scrappedThe Government has been unable to provide the information needed to determine whether the backpackers were still eligible for the tax break.
The Government announced in June it would be abolishing the tax incentive and replacing it with a “travel payment” to help overseas backpacker travel.
In October, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced he would end the backpacker tax holiday.
Under the new plan, backpackers who arrive in Australia within 12 to 18 months of the first overseas trip will be able to claim a travel payment.
But the Government has yet to provide that information to the ACSS and it’s unclear whether backpackers whose first overseas travel is within 12 and 18 months will still be eligible for a travelpayment.
“It’s been a long road and we’ve seen an enormous amount,” Mr Hockey said on Wednesday.
“[The travel payment] was designed for a particular type of overseas traveller and the Australian public’s interest in travel was quite high at the time so I think it’s a fair assessment to make that it’s going to be discontinued.”
Mr Hockey said backpackers would not be “forced” to stay in Australia to continue their travel, but the Government was “very much aware” backpackers “are not a priority for us” and that it would not continue to provide travel payments for them.
Mr Baird said the backpack holiday would be available to all backpackers regardless of where they were going and it would remain available for all backpacker travellers.
“There will be a travel payments payment available for backpackers wherever they are,” he said.
He said backpacker backpackers’ visa applications would not fall through as they had been, and it was “not unreasonable” for them to expect their applications to be processed and approved.
“The Government will continue to make sure that all backpack visitors are treated fairly and that there is a fair outcome for backpacker visa applications,” he told the ABC.
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