Date: 6 Nov 2018
Source: The Age
The government’s proposed changes to working holiday visa arrangements enabling backpackers to work for an additional third year on Australian farms may create more problems than it solves.
These significant reforms effectively create an agriculture visa without necessary checks and balances.
Horticulture relies on vulnerable temporary migrant workers. Any change to visa arrangements supplying them must properly address both labour supply challenges and worker exploitation.
Australia already has more backpackers, and relies more strongly on them for horticultural work, than any country.
Since 2005, working holiday visa holders can extend their visa for a second year if they work for 88 days in a specified regional industry. This change addressed labour supply issues for many growers.
But it came at significant cost to workers, and facilitated unfair competition amongst growers and damage to the industry’s reputation.