Government abolishes 457 visas
Growcom: "We cannot stress how important this resource is to our industry"
Australian production horticulture representative group Growcom does not expect the government’s abolition of 457 visas to be as damaging to their industry, as last year's proposed backpacker tax increase would have been. abolishes
Growcom says it is still surveying its members to find out the extent of the effects, but says unlike other industries, most foreign workers in production horticulture are on other visa types.
"Primarily in production horticulture, backpackers are engaged through either a 417 or a 462 visa," Growcom CEO Pat Hannan said.
"The 417 is a Working Holiday and the 462 is a Work and Holiday visa. These are the primary sources of our backpacker workforce."
The Australian government yesterday announced it would be replacing 457 visas with two and four year temporary visas, with tighter conditions.
But the Opposition disagrees, saying the Prime Minister is only targeting selected job categories where visas have not been issued for decades.
"Only one in ten visa holders will be affected," Opposition leader Bill Shorten said.
Growcom CEO Pat Hannan indicated that the 457 visa category looks at higher value skills which make up a small percentage of roles in production horticulture.
"There's a couple there that I am worried about, that is an agricultural scientist, agricultural engineer, agricultural consultant and a several other categories that sit in there," he said.
"But I really don't know right now how many members have workers engaged under 457 visas. There may be a few, but it would only be a small number. We have to do that research and we need to be given the opportunity for consultation."
"We haven't got much detail yet. Further detail and clarification of the new visa program is needed before we can fully assess the implications for production horticulture, ," Mr Hannan said.
"We would like to be engaged in consultation about how the changes will be applied and whether there is room some flexibility in approach."
"For our workers in production horticulture the majority of training is done on the job and work experience is valued more highly than any tertiary qualifications. But our workforce will change over time and we need to have confidence that the labour needed will be accessible."
"When you speak to our growers, the most important thing for them is access to labour," Mr Hannan said. "We cannot stress how important this resource is to our industry."
Author Matt Russell
Publication date: 4/19/2017