Ex­tra re­form needed for the full sup­ply chain

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Column -

CHANGES to back­packer and sea­sonal worker visa pro­grams will help farm­ers plug staffing gaps, but will not ad­dress crit­i­cal skills short­ages in other parts of the agri­cul­tural sup­ply chain, ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Meat In­dus­try Coun­cil (AMIC).

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced changes that will give back­pack­ers the op­tion of stay­ing in Aus­tralia for an ex­tra year if they com­plete an ex­tra six months of re­gional work, and the amount of time a back­packer can work for a sin­gle em­ployer has also been ex­tended.

In ad­di­tion, the Sea­sonal Worker Pro­gram, which en­ables farm­ers to ac­cess work­ers from Pa­cific na­tions and Ti­mor Leste, will be ex­tended from six months to nine.

But AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchin­son said the changes don’t go far enough.

“It’s im­por­tant, of course, that pro­duc­ers can se­cure the staff they need, but the back­packer pro­gram needs to be ex­panded to the whole of the agri­cul­tural sup­ply chain, in­clud­ing the meat in­dus­try, from meat pro­ces­sors to small­go­ods man­u­fac­tur­ers, whole­salers and re­tail­ers,” he said.

“Meat in­dus­try em­ploy­ers are cry­ing out for these and other re­forms to the visa sys­tem.”

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