Better Tax Incentives for Seasonal Workers

16 Feb 17

“A new government tax incentive has been introduced into Parliament that will see great incentives for young people on Newstart to work and keep their benefits according National’s Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker.

“We have had a bumper blueberry season this year and as always attracting labour to pick the fruit presents challenges for farmers,” said Mr Hartsuyker.

“This proposed measure, named the Seasonal Horticultural Work Income Exemption, is a two year trial of incentives aimed at increasing the number of eligible job seekers who undertake horticultural seasonal work, such as fruit picking.

“The measure responds to concerns about the ability of the Australian horticulture industry to attract sufficient numbers of seasonal workers in Australia.”

Under the proposed measure:

• Newstart and Youth Allowance (Other) recipients who have been receiving those payments continuously for at least three months will have access to a Seasonal Horticultural Work Income Exemption under which they will be able to earn up to $5,000 each year without it being assessed under the social security income test. Qualification rules will be relaxed for this group so that they continue to qualify for Newstart and Youth Allowance (Other) while undertaking eligible horticultural seasonal work.

• Newstart and Youth Allowance (Other) recipients who have been receiving those payments continuously for at least three months would be eligible for a Seasonal Work Living Away and Travel Allowance of up to $300 each year, if they undertake horticultural seasonal work more than 120 km from their home. This payment would not be assessed as income for income support purposes.
“The incentives will be a great thing for the Mid North Coast – it will mean local young people and people on Newstart will have a real financial incentive to get out there and work in those hard to fill jobs,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“For farmers in the area, it will mean that they aren’t so dependent on backpackers to meet their labour needs and means there is a greater supply of workers in the peak seasons.

“When it is initiated the scheme will commence as a trial from 1 July 2017 for two years and will have a cap at 7,600 participants,” he said.

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