Visa changes must be re­fined

Dairy News Australia - - OPINION -

FIND­ING and re­tain­ing good em­ploy­ees will be harder if the Fed­eral Govern­ment main­tains its cur­rent po­si­tion on 457 visa re­forms. It’s a frus­trat­ing po­si­tion for the in­dus­try to find it­self in. In­tu­itive, hard-work­ing em­ploy­ees are dif­fi­cult to find and many farm­ers have gone to great ef­fort and cost to em­ploy skilled work­ers from over­seas. The Govern­ment’s pro­posed changes to the dairy sec­tor could lead to road­blocks for farm­ers and also the pro­cess­ing in­dus­try. The 457 visa, which the Govern­ment and the Op­po­si­tion say have been ex­ploited by em­ploy­ees, par­tic­u­larly in the fast food sec­tor, will be re­placed by two new tem­po­rary skills visas — a two-year visa and a four-year visa “tar­geted at higher skills.” The Govern­ment will also cut the num­ber of oc­cu­pa­tions avail­able for a two-year visa. The Aus­tralian Dairy In­dus­try Coun­cil has gone into bat for the in­dus­try since the Govern­ment’s an­nounce­ment in April and will have its work cut out for it right up un­til March, when the visa re­forms will be fi­nalised. On July 1 it found its lob­by­ing has had some im­pact, when five oc­cu­pa­tions in the pro­cess­ing sec­tor were re­in­stated to the skilled oc­cu­pa­tion lists. How­ever, the ADIC said ‘Dairy Cat­tle Farm­ers’ can only be em­ployed for two years (with ca­pac­ity for re­newal on­shore once only), with no path­way to per­ma­nent res­i­dency. An ex­tra levy has also been ap­plied, which would be paid by farm­ers. The changes will have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the in­dus­try if they go un­chal­lenged and un­changed. The ADIC is work­ing hard but the Coali­tion’s ju­nior part­ner, the Na­tional Party, must stand up for dairy farm­ers and the wider agri­cul­tural work­force and show Prime Min­is­ter Turn­bull and Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton what a mod­ern agri­cul­tural busi­ness re­quires. Jobs on dairy farms can’t be filled by con­tact­ing Cen­tre­link. The cor­rect at­ti­tude is re­quired. The 457 visa pro­gram has been vi­tal to the in­dus­try and changes in their cur­rent detri­men­tal state are an added bur­den the Govern­ment must re­move.

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