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NFF welcomes plan to streamline 457 visas
10 September 2014
A new report, released today by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison MP, confirms what the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has long been saying: that reform of the 457 visa programme is a key mechanism to address the skills shortage in rural and regional Australia.
Overseas workers play a small but important part in the Australian agricultural sector. Many farmers rely on these workers to fill essential on-farm roles that cannot be filled by the domestic labour force.
The proposed reforms would reverse onerous labour market testing requirements and adjust market salary rate and minimum income threshold settings, with the prospect of new concessions to address acute skills shortages in regional areas.
Importantly, the report calls for changes to the list of eligible skilled occupations so that it more accurately reflects jobs in the Australian labour market.
NFF President Brent Finlay said many farm businesses in rural and regional areas struggle to find local workers with the skills farm businesses need.
“Australian workers are the backbone of the agricultural sector. Recent experience with the mining boom shows that Australian agriculture faces strong domestic competition for labour with other sectors of the economy. This makes being able to bring skilled workers in from overseas hugely important,” said Mr Finlay.
“Australia needs a competitive agricultural sector; one that delivers greater returns to the farm gate.
“Recent reports confirm the untapped potential of Australian agriculture. A key priority for us is attracting, upskilling and retaining a future workforce with the capacity to unlock that potential.
“Today’s announcement represents a package of reforms that will enhance the capacity of Australian farm businesses to innovate and grow.
“We look forward to working with the Government on these important reforms,” said Mr Finlay.
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