Visa changes an­nounced to solve labour short­age

Gatton Star - - INTO RURAL LIFE -

THE Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced changes to visa schemes to as­sist farm­ers with labour short­ages.

Work­ing Hol­i­day Maker (WHM) visa pro­gram and Sea­sonal Worker Pro­gram have been re-worked mak­ing it eas­ier for farm­ers to ac­cess work­ers when needed.

Changes in­clude in­creas­ing caps on WHM pro­gram, giv­ing visa hold­ers the op­tion of a third year, and in­creas­ing the Sea­sonal Worker Pro­gram work pe­riod to nine months.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Michael Mccor­mack said agri­cul­ture was a crit­i­cal in­dus­try which un­der­pinned re­gional economies and em­pow­er­ing a flex­i­ble work-force was crit­i­cal to suc­cess.

“Our con­sid­ered and mea­sured ap­proach en­sures we con­tinue to back farm busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties to con­tinue pro­duc­ing and sup­ply­ing the world’s best food and fi­bre,” Mr Mccor­mack said.

“We re­main fo­cussed on ad­dress­ing this is­sue by pro­vid­ing more work­force op­tions and flex­i­bil­ity to help our farm­ers pick their fruit and har­vest their crops.”

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture David Lit­tleproud said farm­ers had been call­ing for ac­tion in this space for some time, and these changes ad­dressed the prob­lems.

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