05/01/2021 - 10:00

Push for more Ag sector workers

05/01/2021 - 10:00

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The federal government has announced a plan to provide more workers for the agricultural sector, which has been impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The federal government has announced a plan to provide more workers in the agricultural sector. Photo: Tim Mossholder

The federal government has announced a plan to provide more workers for the agricultural sector, which has been impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The changes mean that student visa holders working on Australian farms will be allowed to work for more than the usual 40 hours per fortnight during semesters, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said.

It follows changes earlier in the year for international students working in the health and aged care sectors.

“Many regions are expecting bumper crops this year, but with COVID-19 travel restrictions international movement, there still aren’t enough workers available,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This complements a range of other workforce measures we are delivering to support farmers this harvest season.”

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said the changes would give temporary visa holders the ability to earn more income, as well as help farmers this harvest season and avoid food going to waste.

“Australians will always get priority for jobs under this government, but we’re listening to farmers who have been clear that they need many more workers, and they need them now,” he said.

“These temporary visa holders are already in Australia, many do not want to or cannot go home and they will be greatly valued in the agriculture sector.

“It will also be easier for temporary visa holders to access the COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa, if they choose to work in the agriculture sector.”

Temporary visa holders can now apply for the COVID-19 visa up to 90 days before their existing visa runs out, without the need to demonstrate their attempts to depart the country.

More than 5,600 COVID-19 Pandemic event visas have been granted since being made available in April last year.

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