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24 August, 2021

Liberal National Government introduces new Agriculture Visa to address workforce supply

The Liberal National Government has delivered a vital agriculture visa to help secure the future of rural and regional Australia. The Agricultural Worker Visa will provide a long term, reliable workforce for our critical industries while solving one of the great challenges facing regional Australia in recent history. Member for Dawson George Christensen said he welcomed the move to address this issue, which was affected many in regional communities.

“The agriculture visa will be in place no later than 30 September of this year, with the full implementation of this demand driven visa complete within three years,” Mr Christensen said.

“The visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries and will be available to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.

“It will include meat processing, fisheries and forestry sectors and provide a basis for the ongoing growth of our primary industries.

“This will greatly assist those working in horticulture and aquaculture industries across the electorate, particularly in Bowen and the Burdekin, as they manage and plan out their future workforce needs.” 

Mr Christensen said while the Agriculture Visa would be welcomed by many local farmers, he still hoped that unemployed Australians would and could step up to the plate to fill farm jobs. 

“This Agriculture Visa should not be used to supplant Australian workers where such workers are freely available and willing to work,” Mr Christensen said. 

“It is a very great shame that we have many unemployed Australians and yet on-farm jobs go begging.

“Much has been done to incentivise jobseekers including offering up to $6,000 in relocation incentive payments to get people into on-farm jobs but it just hasn’t shifted that many people.”

Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud said the agriculture workforce shortage has been a major issue during COVID.

“While our farmers and industries have gone about their work keeping Australians and the world fed and clothed, they have done so under workforce constraints,” Minister Littleproud said.

“With the changes to the Working Holiday Maker program following the UKFTA, the Government knew this was the time to put the agriculture visa in place.

“This is a structural change to the agricultural workforce. It gives our farmers a confidence to know they can go and plant a crop and know that they’ll be able to get it off.

“It will complement the Pacific programs we have got in place, and we will also be considering permanent residency options under the new Ag visa.”

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