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Say sorry for backpacker lie, Labor to PM

AAP logoAAP 14/11/2016

Labor has called out Malcolm Turnbull for lying over the controversial backpacker tax and wants the prime minister to apologise.

Mr Turnbull used a media conference on Monday to criticise the opposition leader over his stance on legislation facing defeat in the Senate.

"Mr (Bill) Shorten is supporting the proposition that foreign backpackers, foreign workers, should pay no tax at all," he told reporters in Sydney.

"So that if you have a foreign worker, a backpacker working picking fruit next to an Australian, the Australian will be paying tax but the foreigner won't"

How was that standing up for Australian workers, the prime minister asked.

Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon labelled Mr Turnbull desperate and called on him to apologise for the "bald-faced lie".

"He knows it because last week Labor released figures demonstrating that foreign backpackers will always pay more tax than Aussies under our fair and sensible 10.5 per cent tax rate proposal," Mr Fitzgibbon said in a statement.

The government has agreed to drop its tax from the originally slated 32.5 per cent to 19 per cent.

The opposition argues Australian workers don't pay tax up until $18, 200.

"With a 10.5 per cent tax rate for backpackers from the first dollar they earn, that there is no level of income at which Australians will pay more tax than working holiday makers," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Legislation was removed from the Senate agenda last week, as Labor agreed to back a proposal by crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie for 10.5 per cent.

"Malcolm Turnbull needs to stop lying to Australians and sit down with Labor to get this tax fixed," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"He is now the only thing standing in the way of a fair deal for our farmers and regional communities."

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