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New seasonal worker scheme to place Aussie job seekers on farms

July 12th, 2017 | | Accommodation

Australian job seekers will soon be asked to fill a clear gap in farm labour, ins no small part caused by the backpacker tax.

The Team’s Seasonal Workers Incentives Trial (SWIT) started on July 1, this trial is the result of a deal between the Coalition government and the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) that helped push through the backpacker tax legislation. The two-year trial aims to encourage job seekers to take up short-term work placements of six weeks in the horticulture industry and earn up to $5,000 in income, without it affecting their CentreLink payments.

The National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the horticulture industry faced particular challenges in attracting staff, given the seasonal and transient nature of the work required. “For this reason, the industry relies heavily on overseas workers to ensure sure what is grown can be harvested and sold – and not left to perish.”

Mr Mahar said the industry would always support an “Australian jobs first” approach and welcomed this initiative to attract more workers to the sector. “The NFF awaits the outcome of the trial and hopes this program will help to alleviate some of the horticulture’s labour woes,” Mr Mahar said.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard “Aussies first” when it comes to traditional backpacker jobs. In April this year, Prime Minister Turnbull announced that he would scrap the 457 skilled migrant visas to give jobs back to Australians. Already amendments are being made with university staff on 457s being allowed to remain and executives on more than $180,000 per annum also receiving concessions. What’s ok for some, isn’t a level playing or paying field for others.

Xenophon – who has long-championed agricultural issues like improving market competition in the retail supply chain – said the trial would help more Australians into Australian jobs. “It gives job seekers the chance to try work in an orchard or a market garden so they can get a taste for the work and find out for themselves whether like the industry,” he said.

Farmers have an issue with severe labour shortages during key periods. The transient nature of farm work means Australians will now be asked to ‘go where the work is’. Its going to take two years to find out if they will. Lets hope the government is done with stifling and fiddling the 417/462 and 457 visa process in the meantime.

Could this be a long-term solution to the seasonal worker shortage? Have your say.

Sourced by Alex Harmon

Source: Katherine Times