There have been a number of recent announcements which will affect labour availability to Australian farms.
New seasonal agriculture worker visa
The seasonal agriculture worker visa was announced by Minister David Littleproud on June 16 – full announcement here. At this stage, there is little detail as to how exactly the visa will work and how much benefit it will bring to the banana industry.
The Australian Banana Growers’ Council – both individually and as part of the Horticulture Council – has been strongly advocating for access to workers for some time. Read the Horticulture Council’s media release about the new visa here.
The seasonal agriculture worker visa is available to ASEAN member countries. Member countries include: Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
In the recent Queensland budget, $2.6 million was allocated to improving the implementation of PLS/SWP to help meet seasonal workforce gaps in regional areas. A review of the programs is under way, seeking input on how to streamline and improve processes. More about the review here.
Free trade agreement between the UK and Australia
The free trade agreement between the UK and Australia was announced on June 15.
We are yet to receive detail as to exactly when this comes into effect but it does mean British backpackers will no longer be obligated to work 88 days in agriculture. Find more information here.
Temporary relaxation of working hours for Student Visa Holders
In response to workforce shortages, student visa holders can work beyond their usual work limitations in a number of industries including agriculture. While these measures are in place, the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force will not take any adverse action against student visa holders or employers with respect to students working in excess of 40 hours each fortnight. You can find out more here.
You can read additional information about all of these measures on the ABGC’s workforce issues page here.