Monday, 6 April 2020

Changes to visas to help keep agriculture sector moving

An extension to working holiday maker and other visas will help local producers and businesses continue to operate and get their crops off.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said local businesses had raised concerns about not having a workforce without these changes being introduced.

“Many of our local producers rely on not just backpackers, but programs like the Seasonal Worker and Pacific Labour Scheme, to ensure they can get their produce to market when it’s ready,” Mr Pitt said.

“The changes announced means people employed under the Seasonal Worker program and Pacific Labour Scheme can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers.

“Working holiday makers who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month limitation with the one employer and are eligible for a further visa to keep working in these sectors in their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.

“I know there has been strong interest from job ads and I welcome the announcement that we are keeping market testing requirements in place to ensure recruitment of Australians first.”

Visa holders who are looking to take up employment in a different region will have to self-isolate for 14 days before starting a new job.

Employers will also need to provide safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements.

“It’s important that everyone continues to stay at home unless going to work or getting essentials, practice social distancing, washing hands, covering your mouth when coughing or nose when sneezing.

“We can all help stop the spread by following these rules,” Mr Pitt said.

The National Farmers Federation has developed best practice guidance for farmers regarding requirements for accommodation and working arrangements for farm workers (either domestic or migrant) during the covid-19 outbreak and the Chief Medical Officer is reviewing these guidelines.

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