FEDERAL BUDGET support for the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility has been welcomed by the sheep industry, but the National Farmers Federation and Queensland’s AgForce still have reservations.
The Federal Government has committed $370.8 million over four years to expand and improve the PALM scheme, to support sustainable scheme growth and improve support for workers in line with Australian and Pacific aspirations.
WoolProducers chief executive officer Jo Hall said: “Given the ongoing labour shortages in the wool harvesting sector and the ag sector in general, we welcome any investment in streamlining visa, migration and overseas labour scheme processes to assist with labour mobility.”
Sheep Producers Australia CEO Bonnie Skinner said the budget investment to improve the labour shortage is welcomed by SPA.
“Producers need labour support to manage on farm requirements, especially at this time of year, to be able to supply the domestic and international demand for Australian lamb and mutton.”
PALM scheme is putting ‘all our eggs in one basket’ – NFF
NFF president Fiona Simson said while the federation welcomed the investment in one solution to ease the labour crisis facing Australian farmers, the government continues to force industry to put all our eggs in one basket.
“This funding needs to improve access to the scheme for small producers.
“If the scheme continues to be inaccessible to small producers, it is difficult to see how it will answer our workforce issues,” she said.
AgForce general president Georgie Somerset said the budget included some positive moves on workforce supply, including PALM scheme investment and the $76 million for reducing visa processing times, and an extension to pensioner work incentives.
“However, this was counteracted by a more than 15 percent increase in visa application costs, including for backpackers looking to work in agriculture.
“There are many examples in this budget of the government giving with one hand but taking with the other – it is really disappointing for Queensland agriculture,” Ms Somerset said.
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