A new agricultural work visa will start next month, offering a pathway to permanent residence for foreigners
A new visa that would allow foreigners to work on Australian farms will be in place from the end of next month, but it is not yet clear when the first workers with agricultural visas might arrive and start working.
- Federal government confirmed new visa for workers in agriculture, meat, fishing and forestry
- The nationals wanted the visa but some liberals did not like the idea
- It is not known which countries will participate or when the first workers will arrive
Despite previous suggestions, it would be offered to countries in Southeast Asia, but it is still unclear which countries will adhere to the visa or how many workers it will attract.
The visa had been contested by some liberals and its confirmation is considered a major victory for nationals.
A statement co-signed by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the visa would be available for workers in the agriculture, fishing, forestry and meat processing and that it could provide a route to permanent residence or regional settlement.
“The Australian agricultural visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries negotiated under bilateral agreements,” the statement said.
“Comprehensive conditions will be developed and implemented over the next three years as the visa becomes operational.
“The regulations allowing the creation of the Australian agricultural visa will be in place by the end of September 2021.
“The operation of the visa will depend on negotiations with partner countries.”
As the ABC revealed, days before his party replaced his leader, Littleproud secured the government’s visa commitment in exchange for national support for the recent free trade agreement with the Kingdom. -United.
The trade deal removed the requirement for UK backpackers to work on farms to extend their stay in Australia, wiping out around 10,000 agricultural workers.
At the time, Mr Littleproud said that a new visa should at a minimum guarantee replacement of the British workforce.
The ministers’ statement, released today, did not confirm that figure and said the number of workers allowed to get the farm visa would be determined by demand.
But with flights into Australia capped and a limited state-run quarantine, adoption of the farm visa will be tied to Australia’s response to COVID-19.
“Quarantine places remain the biggest constraint on bringing in foreign workers where there are no Australians to fill labor shortages,” the co-signed statement said.
The labor shortage predates the pandemic, and farmers have long requested a specific visa that would attract workers to help harvest their crops.
Although Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the National Farmers Federation in his first few weeks on the job that he supported the visa, other members of the government resisted.
Some liberals fear that this will lead to the creation of more industry-specific visas, others fear that an agricultural visa will undermine work programs with countries in the Pacific.
Mr Littleproud has said on several occasions that a new visa would be complementary to existing work programs for workers in the Pacific Islands.
“This is a structural change for the agricultural workforce,” Mr. Littleproud said.
“It will complement the Pacific programs we have put in place, but will also provide a pathway to permanent residency. “
While many details have yet to be confirmed, visa confirmation has emerged as Western Australia desperately seeks a solution to its labor shortage, ahead of what is expected to be a large grain harvest.
Mr Littleproud said last week he would support the Western Australian government in negotiating the use of a former Northern Territory detention facility to quarantine workers for this year’s grain harvest.
But that so far seems an unlikely option, with neither WA nor NT ready to quarantine the resources at Bladin Village.
Government economists had predicted that the price of fresh produce could climb up to 25 percent this year, due to shortages in farm labor.