Australia’s government has announced today that they have planned to extend working holiday visas to allow young travellers (backpackers) to stay for three years in order to meet a shortage of farm labourers. The young travellers who are on ‘backpacker’s visa’ will be able to remain in Australia for up to three years providing they spend at least six months working in the agricultural sector.
Previously the working Holiday Maker Visa was for one year with the possible extension of a second year if travellers took up work in the remote Northern Territory. The new rules were announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a visit to farming communities in the eastern state of Queensland, a key battleground for his fragile coalition government which must face a national election by May.
The new extension will come into play from July 2019 where travellers will be able to extend their visa for a third year if they spend six months doing farm work in regions where they are suffering from acute labour shortages.
Since 2017 Australia’s government have aimed to reduce the scope of temporary working visas as a part of their greater plan to curb and control immigration. However over time they have discovered that the agricultural sector has complained of severe labour shortages during harvest periods in rural Queensland. After taking this into consideration the government collectively decided by extending the visa it may help improve the agricultural sector.
Last week a survey published by the University of New South Wales found that most international students and backpackers working in Australia earned only a fraction of the minimum wage.
“Our study confirms that Australia has a large, silent underclass of underpaid migrant workers,” said UNSW lecturer Bassina Farbenblum. “The scale of unclaimed wages is likely well over a billion dollars.”
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