Boost for Sunshine Coast Farmers as Holiday Maker Visas Extended
Sunshine Coast farm businesses and communities stand to benefit from an announcement made by the Australian Government to extend working holiday maker and other visas amid the COVID-19 crisis with requirements to support the on-going health of regional communities.
Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace said that the visa changes will allow Pacific seasonal workers, working holiday makers and a range of other visa holders who are unable to depart Australia including on the Sunshine Coast, to continue to work until this health crisis has passed or they are able to return to their home countries.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said “Agriculture is an essential sector and it relies on temporary visa holders, many of whom arrive and depart Australia on a seasonal basis. These visa holders fill a critical workforce gap in this sector,” Minister Littleproud said.
“That is why the Australian Government is putting temporary measures in place to allow important work in the agriculture sector to continue and enable workers already here to extend their stay and remain lawfully in Australia until they are able to return to their home countries.
"At the same time it is critical we manage this labour force to support the on-going health of regional communities and we've acted to include requirements to ensure visa holders follow self-isolation requirements when they move between regions".
“The Australian government stands with industry and will continue to provide support where it is required most to ensure we’re still standing strong when we make it through this pandemic.”
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.
"We have asked the Chief Medical Officer to review these guidelines and it is critical that they are then considered by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.” Minister Littleproud said.
Mr Wallace said that the visa extensions are one more way that the Australian Government is giving Sunshine Coast farmers and communities critical support during what has been a very difficult start to the year.
“Sadly, there's been a significant number of Australians who've lost their jobs due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, but the Australian Government is working hard to help ensure that will not be the case for farmers on the Sunshine Coast.” Mr Wallace said.
“I know there has been strong interest from Australians to job ads and I welcome the announcement that we are keeping market testing requirements in place to ensure recruitment of Australians first.”
“We are well positioned with the decisions taken by the Australian Government to ensure that our farmers are well supported on the Sunshine Coast to continue to work during this time and receive the support they need.
“The visa extensions will ensure that these Sunshine Coast businesses have the skills to protect their interests and maximise their profits.”