I’ve loved backpacking this amazing country, but the upcoming backpacker tax is set to enable the exit of myself and many like me.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit this wonderful country on two occasions. Both times as a backpacker. I’ve wandered this country, top to bottom, right to left. I’ve picked fruit in tropical North Queensland, ferried drunks around the breathing streets of Darwin, endured ska to tend bar in Melbourne, scraping whatever existence I could in between experiences.
If any Australian has done the reverse and backpacked through Europe, you’ve experienced our meagre existence. You rely on the flimsiest of social connections to secure a roof over your head, or for a recommendation for employment. The floor is used in lieu of bed, as the most fleeting of engagement is kept to the evening that holds it. Good times. The experience doesn’t change. However, with each return to these friendly shores, the Australian system of the working visa and the rules applying to backpackers do.
The reason behind me penning this rant under the cloak of anonymity is the upcoming backpacker tax. It may have been put back by six months, but to us, and everyone who may consider Australia, it means nothing. As does George Christensen’s plan to quit if it goes through. Hailing from a country where the democratic wheels spun until they fell off (#Brexit – Ed), I know it’ll go through. Which, for want of a better term, is fucked. 32.5% “on their first dollar”, is fucked. It feels as though we’re being punished for the horrible crime of working jobs that few Australians want to do, despite the platitudes of those who support our doing so. The people that this tax will shortchange, will be everyone. The businesses who put us on, the tourism industry who pitch to us, the publicans who eject us from their premises, and particularly those of us who carry our existence on our shoulders – drunk on the promises of experience in this fantastic country.
I would not change my days here. I discovered who I was, and who I wasn’t, memories to be recalled when I’m too old to leave the house. And I love this country, the people I’ve met are the, as the cliché goes, are the salt of the earth.
As one old cliché rings true, so does another: there’s no place like home. Unfortunately, I’ll soon be leaving it.