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Calls for revamped worker visas after as Australians refuse to pick fruit

There are renewed calls for an overhaul of farm worker visas, with a trial aimed at getting unemployed people into agriculture attracting lacklustre support.

Just 14 people have so far signed up to a new Federal Government program that allows unemployed people to earn an income and still receive their full welfare payment.

The federal Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) was the architect of the trial, which the Government adopted in return for the crossbenchers supporting last year's backpacker tax changes.

Lobby group the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) has raised doubts the program will solve worker shortfalls, which it said would again be highlighted during the summer fruit harvest.

"To say you just need to pay people more to induce them to come into the industry is, in our view, simplistic," NFF workplace relations general manager Ben Rogers said.

Mr Rogers said a radical solution was needed, and the NFF wanted an entirely new visa designed specifically for overseas visitors who worked on farms.

He said the current visas farmers used only offered a short-term solution, and a more reliable, long-term workforce was needed.

Publication date: 10/11/2017


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