While migrant workers are not the principal source of labour for the farming sector — and should not be seen as the panacea to its workforce challenges — effective labour migration programs are critical to the sector.
At present farms rely heavily on three types of migrant worker: working/work and holiday makers (backpackers), Pacific Labour Mobility scheme (PALM) workers, and the temporary skills shortage (including industry labour agreement) workers. While these (and other) programs are highly valued by to the sector, none of them is perfect.
At the very least, this review is an opportunity to address the imperfections by clearing chokepoints which are within programs and improve program resilience and reliability. Ideally, however rather than minor tweaks, the system would be reformed so that it is designed to be accessible and applicable to agriculture, with robust worker protections, which also provides growers with flexibility to meet the variable labour demands.
Read the full submission here.