Ag visa farce is set for an­other re­peat

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - THE ROUND-UP - — Ed Gan­non, Pub­lisher and Ed­i­tor-in-Chief of The Weekly Times

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.

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