Australia’s new agricultural visa
For several months, the Nationals and National Farmers’ Federation have been calling for an agricultural visa to ease labour shortages. On November 5, Prime Minister Scott Morrison effectively delivered it to them through fundamental reforms to the backpacker visa.
Here is how farmers and labour hire companies can now use the backpacker visa as an agricultural visa. Fly to or find an agent in, say, Taiwan and announce that a visa is now available that will enable full-time work on Australian farms for three years. Emphasise that Australia’s minimum wage is about three times that of Taiwan. Those who are interested then arrange for a visa and get themselves to Australia at their own risk and expense.
The Taiwanese labourer’s first year of farm work will entitle him or her to stay in Australia for a second year, and give them time to find a second agricultural employer for a second year. The second year of work will in turn provide an entitlement to stay for a third year of work, for a third employer.
In some ways this is more than the National Farmers’ Federation was asking for: no cap; no need to go home after a year, and then return; and no accreditation requirements for farmers. There are perhaps three limitations. First, the worker has to find a different employer every year, and can work a maximum of three years. Second, once the worker has completed the work required for a visa extension (three months in the first year to get a second year, and six months in the second year to get a third year), they don’t have to work on a farm. And, third, there is an age limit of 30, though this is being increased to …read more