Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed results showing a 20% increase in the number of backpackers applying for a second year working holiday maker visa. 43,219 second year visas were granted under the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program last financial year – 7,000 more than the previous year.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman explained that these visas are only available to working holiday makers who undertake specified work in regional Australia: “That’s 7,000 more young people picking crops, milking cows, shearing sheep and supporting tourism in regional Australia. We know there are some jobs in regional Australia that aren’t being filled by Australian workers, and we are giving regional businesses the immigration settings to help them fill those roles.”
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said the farm sector’s productivity was constrained by a deficit of about 100,000 workers per year, as estimated by the Australian Farm Institute.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring New Zealand, a leading grower says the government's move to allow more seasonal workers into the country still isn't enough to keep up with demand. The government will lift the cap on the number of seasonal support workers allowed into the country in a bid to bring more workers into the regions.
The cap on the number of temporary visas that can be granted to employ foreign seasonal workers will rise by 3150 over two years to 16,000. Starting next year, the cap will increase by 1550 to 14,400 and approval has also been given for the cap to be raised by a further 1600 places to 16,000 starting in 2020.
Francie Perry from Perrys Berrys told Mike Hosking she's hearing of kiwifruit volumes doubling in Auckland in the next two years. "I have also heard from someone in the cherry industry he will need 100 workers to keep up with the demand."