04 Jul, 2013 04:00 AM
AUSTRALIAN Dairy Farmers (ADF) has expressed its dismay at the passing of the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill through Parliament.
The Bill, passed by the Senate last Friday, will place stronger regulations on employers seeking to sponsor skilled migrant workers on Subclass 457 visas.
ADF President Noel Campbell said this disadvantages dairy farmers who have a genuine need to seek overseas workers due to the lack of available local labour.
“At a time when there is a critical shortage of skilled dairy workers, the dairy industry heavily relies on skilled migration to bolster its workforce and help our farmers fill labour shortages,” said Mr Campbell.
“Many dairy employers rely on skilled migrants brought to Australia under 457 visas to fill core on-farm roles.
“The current application process is complex and laborious, prolonging the length of on-farm vacancies. Instead of addressing farmers concerns and streamlining the application process, the Government’s changes will make an already challenging situation even more complex, placing and even greater workload on farmers and affecting health and wellbeing.”
The ADF is working towards increasing workforce participation in the dairy industry, through its partnerships with organisations and programs focused on developing skills and workforce, he said.
“The ADF is committed to upskilling the dairy industry’s existing workers and growing our workforce and we call upon both sides of Government to place agricultural education on the National Priority Band for compulsory HECS-HELP repayments, to encourage more students to enrol in agricultural studies,” said Mr Campbell.
“The benefits of initiatives will take time to flow to the workforce, so for the short term, migration programs such as the 457 visa program are vital so farmers can fill labour shortage gaps. Any restrictions on these programs will only make it harder for farmers to find staff.”
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