Australia’s Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Richard Colbeck has put the brakes on the push for a dedicated visa for farm workers with the argument that the idea is too narrow.
The Minister maintained that people should be allowed the freedom to work in other sectors in regional Australia — tourism inclusive. This is in opposition to the pressure from the National Farmers’ Federation to introduce an agriculture visa.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, he asserted that he didn’t think that having a specific agriculture visa will be effective.
According to Colbeck, having more employment options was necessary for creating labor to farmers and workers in other sectors. He felt it was not right to narrow the solution down to just introducing an agriculture visa.
Last year, the country’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison made efforts to get an agriculture visa introduced in Australia. This was after many failed attempts by the Nationals to push the proposal before harvest set in.
Changes made to the Pacific Labour Scheme
But then, the government made the Pacific Labour Scheme even longer and eased the rules to enable backpackers to stay for longer periods in the country provided they worked on farms.
Colbeck reiterated that he agreed with the government is not narrowing the problem to just an agricultural visa and that the step taken by the government has covered a lot of issues that needed to be resolved.
According to him, the changes will be contributory to making the needed workforce available. He thinks that the government should continue to observe the progress while the demand for labor keeps growing.
Mr. Colbeck went on to warn the horticulture sector which has had many allegations of worker exploitation and illegal foreign employees leveled against it.
He warned that the sector could be locked out of the market is they do not change their ways to do the right thing.
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