Horticulture

Working visas relaxed

By Country News

Australia’s visa rules have been relaxed to make it easier for farmers to hire skilled seasonal workers.

Updates to the country’s list of skilled occupations follow recent changes to the working holiday maker and seasonal worker visa programs.

‘‘We want Australians filling Australian jobs but when this isn’t possible action is needed to ensure farmers can continue to operate,’’ Immigration Minister David Coleman said on Monday.

‘‘Having access to highly skilled professionals helps to develop local talent and facilitate skills and knowledge transfer.’’

Migrants hired for agriculture work will get four-year working visas but must remain in a specified region and work in some type of farming.

The agricultural sector, including the National Farmers’ Federation, has been calling for a specific visa for farm workers, but Assistant Agriculture Minister Richard Colbeck last week said it wasn’t needed given changes already in train.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year committed to an agriculture visa in the medium to long term after a failed push from the Nationals to get the proposal in place before harvest time.

Under other new visa requirements starting on Monday, overseas-trained doctors wanting to work as general practitioners will be directed away from metropolitan areas to regional, rural and remote communities.