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Government sets timeline for streamlining Pacific labour

Industry Advocacy

The federal government yesterday announced the next stage in the process for reforming the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, in line with their earlier announcement on 14 September about future changes and improvements.  

The new announcement confirmed that the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) would be combined into one program by April 2022, managed under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  

While this is unlikely to impact the access to labour in the 2022 apple and pear harvest season, APAL’s Head of Government Relations and Advocacy Jeremy Griffith said this was a positive sign of the government’s intention to improve the program.  

“This ties in with announcements made back in September, and it is an ongoing indication of commitment by the government to reforming a significant and successful labour program,” Jeremy said.  

Steve Burdette, Executive Officer of Approved Employers of Australia, said this consolidation is the next stage in positioning PALM for future growth.  

“The government has listened to industry and will work hard to combine the schemes, work through the details, reduce red tape, improve processes and grow these programs,” Steve said. “Merging two organisations is a big task, and the implementation details will still need to be worked through between now and April.  

“Along with this announcement, they have given a timeline for updating the deed and guidelines into one document in order to combine these two programs. The first draft will be submitted in December, then by mid-February they will aim to merge the functions, by the end of March they will sign the deed and guidelines, and then on 4 April these will come into effect.”  

Steve said the major changes to the programs that were announced in September, including worker flexibility and greater focus on worker wellbeing, will continue to be developed in 2022 in consultation with industry. 

Find out more about the PALM scheme on the website. 

Australian Agriculture Visa Fact Sheet (30 September 2021) 

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