NEW FARM WORKING VISA CAN LEAD TO PERMANENT RESIDENCE
- The Federal government has confirmed a new visa for farm, meat, fisheries and forestry workers
- The Nationals wanted the visa but some Liberals did not like the idea
- It is not clear which countries will participate or when the first workers will arrive. But it will focus on Pacific and Southeast Asian workers
A new visa that would allow foreigners to work on Australian farms will be in place from late next month, but it is not yet clear when the first workers on the agriculture visa could arrive and begin work.
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 to workers in farming, fisheries, forestry and meat processing and that it could provide a pathway to permanent residency or regional settlement.
“The Australian Agriculture visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries negotiated through bilateral agreements,” the statement said.
“Full conditions will be developed and implemented over the next three years as the visa is operationalised.
“Regulations to enable the creation of the Australian Agriculture visa will be in place by the end of September 2021.
“Operation of the visa will depend on negotiations with partner countries.”
As revealed by the ABC, days before his party replaced its leader, Mr Littleproud secured the government’s commitment to the visa in return for the Nationals’ support of the recent free trade agreement reached with the UK.
But with flights to enter Australia capped and state-operated quarantine limited, the uptake of the agriculture visa will be linked to Australia’s response to COVID-19.”Quarantine places remain the biggest constraint to bringing in overseas workers where there are no Australians to fill workforce shortages,” the co-signed statement said.
The worker shortage pre-dates the pandemic and farmers have long called for a specific visa that would attract workers to help harvest their crops.
Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling the National Farmers Federation during his first weeks in the job that he supported the visa, there has been resistance from others in government.
Mr Littleproud said:
“It gives our farmers the confidence to plant a crop and know that they’ll be able to get it into the supply chain.
“It will complement the Pacific programs we have got in place but also provide a pathway to permanent residency.”
While many details are still to be confirmed, confirmation of the visa has emerged as Western Australia desperately seeks a solution to its worker shortage, ahead of what is expected to be a major grain harvest.