October 1, 2021
The Federal Government’s new Ag Worker Visa scheme came into effect on Thursday.
Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud described the scheme as the “biggest structural change” to the agricultural workforce in Australian history.
“The visa will also be available to the fisheries, forestry and agricultural processing sectors and will target seasonal workers, skilled and semi-skilled workers,” Mr Littleproud said.
He said this would bring the next generations of migrants to “not just grow agriculture but regional Australia”.
“Our agriculture industry and primary producers have always kept Australians and the world fed and clothed, but they have done so under workforce constraints,” Minister Littleproud said.
“The creation of the ag visa under the Migration Regulations is landmark moment for the sector and delivers on our promise to have it in place this year.
“The ag visa will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for our critical industries while solving one of regional Australia’s greatest challenges in recent 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.
“It will complement the Pacific programs we have got in place which have been critical in supporting our primary industries to date.
“The Pacific will remain the key pathway for the sector to access workers for this harvest, with the government committing to double the number of Pacific workers in Australia by March 2022.”
Minister Littleproud launched the new visa at a media conference in Mackay on Friday alongside Member for Dawson George Christensen, Queensland Senator Matt Canavan and LNP candidate and Mayor of Whitsundays Andrew Wilcox.
“This will give a permanent pathway to residency for those who come under this visa,” Minister Littleproud said.
“This is going to bring the next generation of migrants to Australia that’ll grow regional Australia and grow, grow agriculture.
“This is an important step. The bilaterals with a number of countries have been going for over three or four weeks now, and we now expect, with this implementation of this visa today, that that will give them the confidence to sign up. Once they sign up, we will be able to see residents from those countries come into here to work, not only on a seasonal basis but on a skilled and semi-skilled basis as well.
“So this is the biggest structural reform to agriculture workforce in our nation’s history.
“This will be a visa that will go for over three to four years, and then after that they’ll have to commit to a further period in agriculture and in regional Australia to get that pathway to permanent residency.
“So this is about making sure that there is a commitment to regional Australia, a commitment to agriculture. This is about giving certainty, investment certainty, to our farmers, not only here in the Burdekin, but right across the country – that they know that someone’s going to be there to help them get their produce off their paddock and on to your plate.”
The Migration Amendment (Australian Agriculture Workers) Regulations 2021 amended the Migration Regulations 1994.
The program will be reviewed after two years.