Ag visa farce is set for another repeat
WELCOME to the backpacker tax 2.0.
As if the Federal Government did not learn its lessons from the last debacle, we are seeing it play out again with the agriculture visa – and, as usual, the ag sector will be the one to suffer when the government stuffs it up.
Expectations were high last week when rumour spread an announcement on the visa was pending.
But those hopes were dashed when it was confirmed the government had made no decision on the visa and it was, in fact, all still up in the air.
Exactly what went on behind the scenes is still murky, but the finger-pointing has been swift.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack is copping heat amid speculation he failed to get the visa into the coalition agreement, as the party wanted.
Mr McCormack has refused to disclose what’s in the agreement and is backing further away from earlier comments that an ag visa was a top priority that “needs to be sorted within weeks, not months”.
He’s put the burden on Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who has consistently said a visa was a priority for the coming season.
But he too has indicated a “full-on visa takes time”.
The Liberals appear unwilling to co-operate, and it beggars belief the impact on existing schemes such as the seasonal worker program has not been considered until now.
Even if the visa is in the coalition agreement, the policy itself still needs to be well thought out and tailored to agriculture’s specific needs.
Another rushed, illconceived, short-term plan will leave the industry worse off.
Ag industries, particularly horticulture, will limp through another season.
But it’s not sustainable long-term, especially if we want our industries to grow.
❝ Ag industries, particularly horticulture, will limp through another season. But it’s not sustainable long-term, especially if we want our industries to grow.