POLITICS

Derryn Hinch Could End The BackPacker Tax Mess Now, But He Won't

Something has to give on the last day of parliament.

01/12/2016 2:09 PM AEDT | Updated 01/12/2016 2:12 PM AEDT
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Andrew Meares, Fairfax
Senator Derryn Hinch told the Prime Minister “13 is the top, that’s it.”

CANBERRA – Confused by what is going on with the backpacker tax? You are not alone and many of the addled are in Parliament House.

It's the last day of parliament for 2016 so it will all be over soon and if no deal is done Thursday nothing can be done until parliament returns in 2017. The warning from government is the rate will revert to 32.5 percent from January 1, a very high rate nobody wants, especially working holiday makers.

There is an sense of desperation in the air. The Prime Minister and Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop are involved with negotiations with the Senate crossbenchers to get them across the line.

The Turnbull Government, so far, is sticking to a 15 percent position announced on Monday, while Labor and Jacqui Lambie had wanted 10.5 percent, but have moved Thursday kicking and screaming to 13 percent.

It is a couple of percentage points which may mean little in the long run to backpackers looking for destinations to travel to and earn a wage. However, it is a big deal to farmers concerned about summer fruit rotting on trees with no backpacker labourers.

The key is sole Justice Party Senator Derryn Hinch, who had a position supporting 19 percent, 15 percent and 10.5 percent, but is now immoveable on 13 percent.

He revealed he told Malcolm Turnbull "13 is the top, that's it."

That's despite also saying Thursday, "I didn't care if it was 10 or if it was 15" and that he had offered 15 percent to the Treasurer on Sunday night and Scott Morrison rejected it.

No, Hinch is holding out for 13 percent, even though he thinks "you won't get 13 percent through, I am pretty sure, the Government and the Prime Minister were very firm this morning that is the way it is."

"We've come up enough. 13 is the level," Hinch said.

To wrap, the figure does not fuss Hinch, he has held various positions, but is holding out on a figure he knows he won't get through. He is the one vote the government needs and could end this all now.

It was put to him at the press conference by a journalist that he would have "rotten fruit on his hands".

Hinch's response, "Well, so be it".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has described backpacker tax negotiations as a "farce," which is hard to argue against.

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