Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee has welcomed changes made to two Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa programs by the Federal Government saying they will not only benefit local orchardists, but the entire Australian agricultural sector.
Mr Gee said adjustments to WHM subclass 417 and 462 visa program include lifting the annual caps on visas, expanding the number of regional areas where WHM visa holders can work for three months in specified farming work, and allowing 12 months of work with the same agricultural employer.
Adjustments are also being made to the Seasonal Worker Program, including increasing the period of work in Australia to nine months for all workers (it is currently six months for some countries) and reducing out of pocket expenses for employers.
“I think the changes to the working holiday maker visa program are a really positive thing, not only for local orchardists, but also for the agricultural sector right around Australia,” Mr Gee said.
“While we haven’t had labour shortages on our orchards in recent years, and it looks like there will be enough workers for this year’s harvest, local growers have been keen to ensure that the conditions under the 417 and 462 visas are maintained.
“The Federal Government has done more than that by actually expanding the conditions for seasonal workers and I believe our local orchardists will be very happy with these changes.
“In the longer term I think a dedicated Ag visa would be a positive thing, but I think the changes announced are a really positive start and I’m sure they will be welcomed right around the country.”
Changes to Working Holiday Maker visas:
- Work and Holiday makers (subclass 462) will be able to undertake regional plant and animal cultivation work in additional priority areas to become eligible for a second visa.
- Extension of the period a WHM (subclass 417 and 462) may work with the same agricultural employer from six to 12 months.
- Introduction of a third year visa option for WHM (subclasses 417 and 462), who from 1 July 2019 onwards complete six months of regional work in the second year.
- Increase the number of places available for Work and Holiday Maker program (subclass 462) by lifting annual caps available to a number of countries participating in the subclass 462 visa program.
Changes to the Seasonal Worker Program:
- Increase work period in Australia to nine months for all workers (currently six months for some countries).
- Increase validity of labour market testing prior to recruiting workers from three to six months.
- Reduce out of pocket expenses for employers (workers repay their full travel costs except for the first $300; a reduction from the previous $500).
Notes: Details of the additional priority areas where subclass 462 visa holders will be able to undertake plant and animal cultivation work to become eligible for a second visa is on the Department of Home Affairs’ website, https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/462-#tab-content-1 (click on the ‘visa applicants’ and then ‘specified areas northern and regional Australia’ link).