Members of the National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council say the new Seasonal Agricultural Workforce Visa(Ag Visa) announced by Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud today is welcome news that has been a long time coming.
Minister Littleproud has said the new visa – to be in place before the end of this year – would enable workers from the 10 ASEAN nations to work in Australia for up to nine months, three years in a row.
Horticulture Council Chair, Fiona Simson, said it was critical the Government nailed the details of the visa and delivered effective relief for the sector’s workforce woes.
“The NFF Horticulture Council has led the charge in calling for this visa solution for several years, and we give credit to the Nationals leadership for bringing it closer to reality today.
“But we’ll be forgiven for being a little cynical, having heard similar announcements and supportive words stretching back to 2018.
“What matters now is that industry and government work collaboratively to design a scheme that will deliver genuine and effective relief to farmers.
“It needs to be flexible and portable – keeping red tape to a minimum and letting workers move between jobs with ease,” Ms Simson said.
Importantly, the Council also called on the Government to consider how the new visa could play a role in ensuring workers had a positive experience on-farm.
“An important feature of an Ag Visa must be that only growers who can demonstrate their compliance with the law can have access to the program.
“As an industry, we take a strict zero tolerance approach to the mistreatment of workers, and we expect this new visato promote the same approach.
“We look forward to working with the Government to design a visa that gives growers access to a productive and dedicated workforce and sets high standards for on-farm practices,” Ms Simson said.