This month the federal government merged the Pacific Labour Scheme and the Seasonal Worker Program into one. The revised Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme (PALM) promised to make things easier for employers and employees. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for the single system, with key changes including extending visa validity up to four years, multiple entries, and more flexibility for workers to move around.
But some growers with smaller businesses claim that the barriers to participating in the program were too great. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 25,000 workers have arrived in Australia from the Pacific Islands. While the majority of these workers were recruited through labor hire companies, a small number were hired directly by businesses.