Australia’s government has announced that it will introduce the Agricultural Worker Visa from September 30 in order to increase the working staff engaged in meat processing, fisheries, forestry, and other similar industries.

According to the country’s authorities, the new visa will help workers from ten Southeast Asian Nations to work in Australia, a pathway to permanent residence, although it is still not clear which countries are chosen or how many workers it will attract.

The government clarified that the full implementation of the visa would be finished within three years, VisaGuide.World reports.

Based on the statement signed by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, the visa will be open to internationals from other countries negotiated through common agreements.

“Full conditions will be developed and implemented over the next three years as the visa is operationalized. Regulations to enable the creation of the Australian Agriculture visa will be in place by the end of September 2021. Operation of the visa will depend on negotiations with partner countries,” the statement reads.

Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, stressed that the Australian government would immediately start consultations in order to understand the needs across the agricultural industry.

“The departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Home Affairs and Agriculture, Water and the Environment will design the visa to ensure a high degree of integrity and safeguards for workers. We will work closely with partner governments also, including our Pacific family, to ensure their interests are protected,” the statement notes.

The new visa program will be built upon the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). Australian authorities expect that the number of Pacific and Timorese workers in the country will double to over 24,000 until March 2022.

However, authorities clarified that the uptake of such a visa would be linked to the current COVID-19 situation in Australia.

According to Payne, self-isolation places remain the most significant struggle to bringing in international workers, while she stressed that the country’s government is working closely with other territories to ensure that Australia can meet future workforce needed across the industry.

A total of 334,000 people were employed in the Australian agriculture sector in 2019-20, and was worth $67 billion, while the industry aims to reach $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030, based on the figures published by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment.

“The 2021-22 Budget invests around $30 million to help the agricultural sector secure skill and build its workforce,” the statement published by the same Ministry reads.

The Coronavirus outbreak has caused a difficult situation for many industries, including agriculture, due to preventive measures taken in order to stop the spread of the virus and its new strains; therefore, authorities in Australia are planning to increase the working staff to help the sector recover from the damages caused by the virus.

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