David Littleproud, Agriculture Minister of Australia, recently toured the Shepparton region where he voiced his support for the government’s new agriculture-based employment visa, which he hopes will be implemented by the end of the year. Australian agriculture sector had a shortage of more than 100,000 workers and was introduced in April 2018 by Michael McCormack, deputy prime minister of Australia and Nationals leader. The demand increased even more after Peter Dutton, Home Affairs Minister of Australia, omitted the range of skills allowed to access 451 visa subclass. The new visa will streamline the process to bring foreign agriculture workers to Australia, most of whom will be employed in works like fruit picking and shearing.
Littleproud said that it had been his priority ever since he became the federal agriculture minister. Damian Drum, Federal Member for Murray, knocked on his door because like Littleproud, he also sees the concerns that everyone around is talking about. He made these comments while touring Varapodio orchard, Ardmona with Drum. Littleproud said that his department is working with other departments including Home Affairs and Citizenship to develop a proper consultation for the visa.
It is a complicated process because you need to consult appropriately with industries and get it right the first time around because there’s no going back. Littleproud wants to try to make sure that there’s land available because farmers can’t leave the fruits on trees and let them get spoilt. The minister toured the orchard second time around after announcing the visa four months ago.
Listen to the problems
Littleproud often takes time off office and visits farmer’s kitchen table to discuss the common problems they face. He also visits processing sheds to discuss their issues. Rather than getting a Canberra lens, he wants to put a lens of reality over it.