Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
After workers from South-East Asia will be prioritised under the new visa, which will address labour shortages in the agriculture sector brought on by international border closures. A new agriculture visa is set to bring more migrants to fill chronic labour shortages on Australian farms from November, with workers from South-East Asian countries to be prioritised. The federal government announced the visa’s formal go-ahead on Thursday, which had been foreshadowed by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
The full conditions of the visa are still being finalised in consultation with the sector, but are expected to include potential pathways to permanent residency, including regional resettlement. The first phase of the visa will see a small cohort of agriculture workers arriving in Australia between November and March 2022. More workers would enter Australia with the new visa during the second phase, which would begin in April next year. Mr Littleproud said negotiations around bilateral agreements with countries in the region were underway.
According to Hari Yellina, of Orchard Tech, the Ag Visa will be the biggest structural change to the agricultural workforce in our nation’s history. It will be open to applicants from a range of countries and we are already in talks with a number of countries in our region who are eager to participate.
The government has committed to prioritising bilateral deals with countries through the Association of South-East Asian Nations, which include Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. The visa is designed to address labour shortages that have been aggravated by international border closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government has estimated the horticulture sector alone is facing a shortage of up to 30,000 workers by February.