The Nationals have come good on their promise and delivered a vital and historic agriculture visa to help secure the future of rural and regional Australia.
Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said the Agricultural Worker Visa would provide a long-term, reliable workforce for our critical industries, simultaneously solving one of the great recent challenges that regional Australia has faced.
Mr Drum said he was incredibly proud to be a part of a government that had consistently fought for – and delivered – for regional communities, including those across the Goulburn Valley.
“The agriculture visa will be in place no later than September 30 this year, with the full implementation of this demand driven visa complete within three years,” Mr Drum said.
“This will greatly assist the various industries in Nicholls as they manage and plan out their future workforce needs.
“For example, fruit growers across the Goulburn Valley can now be confident that all of their valuable produce will end up on shelves.
“The visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries and will be available to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
“It will include meat processing, fisheries and forestry sectors and provide a basis for the ongoing growth of our primary industries.
“We’ve listened to our communities and our industries, and this is what they’ve asked for.
“This will also help keep our next generation in Nicholls knowing that the future of regional Australia is bright and prosperous.”
Deputy Leader of the Nationals and Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said the agriculture workforce shortage had been a significant issue since COVID-19 engulfed Australia.
“While our farmers and industries have gone about their work keeping Australians and the world fed and clothed, they have done so under workforce constraints,” Mr Littleproud said.
“With the changes to the Working Holiday Maker program following the UKFTA, the Federal Government knew this was the time to put the agriculture visa in place.
“This is a structural change to the agricultural workforce. It gives our farmers confidence to know they can go and plant a crop and know that they’ll be able to get it off.
“It will complement the Pacific programs we have got in place, and we will also be considering permanent residency options under the new ag visa.”
Leader of The Nationals and Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said the agriculture visa would deliver what so many primary producers were crying out for.
“It will give regional Australia the workers they need to get produce to plate in Australia, as well as our export markets,” Mr Joyce said.