13 February 2020

At a time when the agriculture sector is crying out for labour certainty, incoming Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has only added to the confusion by saying, ‘you need to have some fluidity on this part of the chain.’

Since October 2018, the Morrison Government has held no less than five different positions on an agriculture visa.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised a dedicated agriculture visa in October 2018, only for the Government to abandon that commitment just five months later.

This Liberal National Government is in its seventh year and they’ve had almost as many positions on an agriculture visa. They’re flip flopping like a barramundi on a boat ramp.

Farmers need certainty. They need to know that when there is work to be done on their property there will be workers ready for them to hire.

This problem isn’t new, but the Morrison Government still does not have a plan to address the ongoing agriculture labour shortage crisis.

Instead, in recent weeks the Liberal National Government has been more interested in themselves and their internal battles than helping farmers in need.

The Labor Party has established a Senate inquiry into temporary migration to investigate matters including the labour shortage crisis in agriculture, as well as issues related to migrant worker exploitation. I invite any stakeholders and interested parties to make a submission here.

Appendix: A comprehensive history of Government backflips on agriculture workers.

18 October 2018: Prime Minister promises agricultural visa to the National Farmers Federation

“Our government does support moving towards an agricultural visa. There has never been any question about that.”

March 2019: Prime Minister walks back commitment“We already have one. It already works that way. This is just a semantic discussion about titles.”

30 April 2019: Deputy Prime Minister reiterates agricultural visa promise

“When we are re-elected we will revisit it […] We just need to work out the best and most viable way to do it and we’ll get it done.”

19 November 2019: Minister McKenzie commits to solving labour shortages by extending the Seasonal Worker Programme

“This package is about getting the right labour at the right time at the right place.”

12 February 2020: Minister Littleproud stops short of pursuing an agriculture visa

Weekly Times, Visa ‘common sense’ urged, published 12 February 2020“The vagaries of agriculture means you have to have some fluidity on this part of the chain.”