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We don't want dole fruit pickers: growers

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 Rashida Yosufzai

Tasmanian fruit growers say getting Australians on the dole to pick fruit in place of backpackers will only create more havoc than it's worth.

Farmers are warning of a drought in working holiday makers this summer because of the uncertainty created by the Turnbull government's backpacker tax changes, and are concerned tonnes of fruit will be left unpicked.

The government originally wanted a 32.5 per cent tax from the first dollar backpackers earned, but has since dropped it to 19 per cent.

It's been suggested that unemployed young Australians could take on such work and fill the anticipated drop in foreign workers, if they're given an incentive.

But cherry and apple grower Hansen Orchards says while it employs some locals, there's never enough and most residents will never be interested in short-term work.

"No-one aspires to having a career spending two or three weeks picking and moving around the country," managing director Howard Hansen told a Senate inquiry in Launceston on Wednesday.

Mr Hansen said most are discouraged by a waiting period to get back on welfare when work is finished.

Cherry grower Reid Fruits said allowing those on the dole to pick fruit would "create more havoc" than was necessary.

"There's nothing more scary for me than the government forcing people that are unemployed to come here to work," managing director Tim Reid said.

"If you're going to start putting the hammer on them to get out and work it just attracts all the wrong types to our work."

Mr Reid remains unhappy about the 19 per cent tax rate, warning it was still uncompetitive and would send "a message of discrimination" overseas.

He warned some backpackers may end up in positions of power in their country one day and the government should be worried about the political consequences.

"The government ... should man-up and fix this problem," Mr Reid said.

Mr Hansen pointed to the fact Treasury had not done any modelling on the impact of the tax, warning he couldn't pay company taxes if he couldn't pick crops.

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