Visa changes announced
New scheme will help address shortage of agriculture workers
BACKPACKERS will be able to work at the one farm for longer and extend their stays in Australia under visa changes aimed at helping agriculture’s worker shortage.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled changes to the working holidaymaker and seasonal worker programs in response to ongoing industry calls for help solving their labour woes.
It comes after the Government ruled out introducing a dedicated agriculture visa in the short term, though Mr Morrison has said it remains an option in the future.
Under the changes, working holidaymakers will be able to work for the one agricultural employer for up to a year. Farmers have been seeking this change to avoid having to find and train new staff every six months.
Backpackers will also be eligible to stay in Australia for a third year if they complete another six months of ag work in their second year.
The number of places available in the 462 visa scheme – which includes holidaymakers from countries such as the US and China – will also be increased, as will the number of areas where they can work.
The age limit for working holidaymakers will also be lifted from 30 years to 35 years.
Changes to the seasonal worker program, meanwhile, will mean all workers from the Pacific Islands will be able to work in Australia for nine months instead of six, and reduce the out-of-pocket cost for farmers using the program by $200.
Changes to both visas will still require an Australiansfirst labour market test before farmers can access overseas labour.
National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson said the changes would make it easier for farmers to find and keep the staff they needed.
“The NFF, primarily through our Horticulture Council, has long called for a number of different initiatives, the sum of which would be an adequate and fit-for-purpose farm workforce,” Ms Simson said in a statement.
“We welcome these material changes and look forward to their implementation.
“The NFF is pleased to have the Prime Minister’s support for a dedicated agricultural visa and we will continue to work with the parliament to see the initiative become a reality.”
❝pleased The NFF is
to have the Prime Minister’s support for a dedicated agricultural visa and we will continue to work with the parliament to see the initiative become a reality.
— Fiona Simpson
HELP AT HAND: Visa changes have been announced to address the agriculture industry's worker shortage.