Announcement on Australia’s new Ag Visa
In a bid to solve the farming sector’s enduring labour shortage, the federal government has announced the establishment of the Australian Agriculture visa for foreign workers from South-East Asian countries. Holders of the new Ag visa will be offered a pathway to permanent residency and settlement in regional areas, aiming to help fill a COVID-induced labour shortage across the farming, fisheries and forestry sectors.
The new visa is being established to build on successful existing Pacific worker schemes and will respond to workforce shortages across the agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sectors. It will be administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“Full conditions will be developed and implemented over the next three years as the visa is operationalised,” read a statement co-signed by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.
It will operate from September 21, ahead of the next harvest, and comes in addition to the existing Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme, considered highly successful by the government.
The government is undertaking industry consultations to understand needs across the agricultural sector. It is forecasted that the number of Pacific and Timorese workers in Australia will double to over 24,000 under the scheme.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, all workers will need to be quarantined, adding additional constraints on bringing in Pacific workers.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the introduction of a new visa which will provide employment opportunities to international workers amid farm labour shortages is “transformational”.
The new Agriculture Visa will be made available to citizens from the UK and 10 countries in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
Countries in ASEAN include: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.
Source: SBS News