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Labor non-committal on AgVisa as Federal Election 2022 is called

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s comments at the National Farmers Federation (NFF) conference last week indicated the Labor Party has not yet committed to the AgVisa.

The federal government introduced the Australian Agriculture Visa (AgVisa) last year, with the aim of addressing workforce shortages across Australia farms. Vietnam signed onto the scheme last month, with the first workers due later in the year. The Philippines formally withdrew from the AgVisa negotiations in late February.

Albanese spoke at the conference in Canberra during the week, where he remained non-committal about Labor’s support for the AgVisa should it win the election on 21 May.

“If no one comes, guess what – it doesn’t exist,” he told attendees from across the agriculture sector.

“We’ll do something better,” he said. “We’ll sit down with [the agriculture industry] and work on how we get a proper visa system, and how we get a proper workforce here.”

The NFF is pro-AgVisa, with President Fiona Simson noting that it complements other initiatives that are already in place to get more workers on farms, such as the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), which from this month has been consolidated with the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) into a single Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.

“The AgVisa is a key piece of the jigsaw to address the workforce shortages constraining agriculture’s growth, complementing initiatives to grow our domestic workforce,” Simson said.

“Farmers anticipated a rock-solid guarantee from Labor to progress the AgVisa. Unfortunately this guarantee was not forthcoming (at the conference). We look forward to Mr Albanese’s offer to work with the NFF to fix farmers’ worker crisis.”

APAL Head of Government Relations and Advocacy Jeremy Griffith noted the importance of the issue.

“There is a need for an AgVisa to boost the pool of workers available for apple and pear growers. There are simply not enough workers in Australia at the moment” he said.

“Our preference remains for the Labor Party to support the AgVisa if it is elected – we don’t have the luxury of entering a third year with on-going labour shortages.”

The Federal election has been called for May 21.

 

READ MORE: 

The Australia Agriculture Visa (Fact Sheets)

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