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Australian Banana Growers’ Council calls on federal government to rethink the issue

Minister Hawke shortchanges industry on laborers

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council is asking the Australian Government to rethink an announcement made by Minister Alex Hawke last week, that changed the rules for backpackers.

Immigration Minister Hawke changed the rules for those backpackers seeking to extend their Working Holiday Maker visa to second and third years. They would be allowed to complete their 88 days work not just on farms, but also now in the tourism and hospitality sectors across northern and remote Australia.

ABGC Deputy Chair Leon Collins noted that this was likely to mean even less access to staff for banana growers than the critically short situation now. quoted him as saying: “The Australian Government needs to review and overturn the Minister’s decision immediately. On top of that, the fact that there was no consultation with the National Farmers Federation or any representative of the agriculture sector, suggests that little thought has been given to the ongoing implication of this decision.”

The ABGC is also calling for effective industry consultation and greater transparency in policy making on this long running visa program and related matters.

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