To help improve labour supply for orchardists, APAL has called on the Australian Government to improve the Seasonal Worker Program, Working Holiday (417) visas, and Temporary Work – Skilled (457) visas.
“Visa programs are a crucial source of labour for the apple and pear industry, but there is a lot of red tape required of growers to employ people via these visas,” says APAL’s Industry Services Manager Annie Farrow. “The visas lack flexible employment periods and pathways to migration, and the need to provide superannuation to backpackers is of concern to growers.”
The Australian Government has released a visa discussion paper as part of its review to reduce red tape and improve industry competitiveness. In response to the paper, APAL has written to the Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton to outline a number of issues faced by the apple and pear industry.
“Key points in our letter include the need to expand the Working Holiday visa by increasing the upper qualifying age, the number of eligible countries and permitting multiple visits from individuals who have worked on orchards,” says Annie. “The skills coverage of the Temporary Work – Skilled visa should also include more horticultural skills.
“And, to induce a greater uptake of the Seasonal Worker Program amongst apple and pear growers, we think the Government should waive the international flights and domestic transportation costs incurred by growers, introduce greater flexibility around the start and end dates for work teams, and reduce the paperwork burden required of employers.”
Annie added that the Government should allocate a tax file number and a superannuation fund number immediately upon issuing a visa under any of the programs.