West Australian farmers fear visa policy changes will lead to labor shortages

A review of Australia's migration system has suggested limiting the working holiday-maker visa to one year rather than giving backpackers the opportunity to extend their visa if they do 88 days of eligible work in a regional area. In making the recommendation, the review highlighted investigations into the program that shone a light on the exploitation of travelers.

While a decision has not been made about the backpacker recommendation, there will be changes to the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. As a result of the changes, Pacific Islander workers will need to be offered a minimum of 30 hours of work each week.

Backpackers on working holiday visas currently make up about 50 percent of Doriana Mangili's workforce at her banana farms in Carnarvon, in WA's Gascoyne region. In summer, backpackers make up to 80 percent of her employees. She said the pandemic highlighted what impact worker shortages had on prices and availability of produce.

Farmers across the country turned to hire Pacific Island workers during the pandemic, but Ms. Mangili predicted changes coming into effect next year would result in producers moving away from the scheme.

Source: abc.net.au

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