Changes to Australia’s visa program aimed at tackling labour shortages in agriculture have been welcomed by Cotton Australia.
The Federal Government today announced reforms to visa programs including the Working Holiday Maker Visa and the Seasonal Worker Programme, as well as new measures to further prevent exploitation of workers.
Among the changes are plans to boost efforts to get Australian jobseekers into vacant agricultural roles, extensions to visa durations, and increased promotion of working holiday opportunities to overseas youth.
Cotton Australia’s General Manager, Michael Murray, says the changes are positive.
“The reforms announced today by the Federal Government are sensible and very beneficial for Australian cotton growers looking to secure the workforce capacity they need,” Mr Murray says.
“Our industry has long been supportive of employing Australians in farm jobs in the first instance, and then turning to overseas when those vacancies can’t be filled domestically. Our growers are passionate about supporting workers on visas in their roles and providing them with beneficial experiences in Australian agriculture.”
“These latest visa changes will increase the attractiveness of working on a farm for overseas workers, which in turn will help our growers fill persistent gaps in their workforce. That is positive news for not only our industry, but for Australian agriculture more broadly and our regional communities and economies.”
Despite the changes – the effects of which will take time to filter through – Mr Murray says Cotton Australia is committed to continuing its advocacy around the development of a dedicated agricultural visa.
“While the changes announced by the government are certainly welcome, we continue to advocate for a dedicated agricultural visa to be developed and implemented as a long-term, sustainable solution,” he said.
“We believe a dedicated ag visa will be more effective in reducing labour shortages in our industry, particularly for some skilled on-farm roles, and we look forward to continuing our work with organisations like the National Farmers’ Federation in ensuring the development and implementation of an ag visa remains part of the Prime Minister’s plans.”
Cotton Australia is the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry.