Farmer register protection a step closer

Karen Sweeney

More than a year after the federal government committed to keeping private the details of farmers who employ foreign workers it's proceeded with the plan.

The privacy of an employer register was one of the commitments the government gave last February to secure support for its backpacker tax, charging working holiday makers a base rate of 15 per cent tax from the first dollar they earn.

Assistant minister to the treasurer Michael Sukkar told parliament on Wednesday employers of foreign workers would still have to register with the tax office, but the register would not be searchable.

The proposal also prevents information sharing between the tax office and the Fair Work Ombudsman where a business is reasonably suspected of non-compliance.

Despite calls from opposition MPs for the register to be transparent, legislation passed the lower house on Wednesday evening.