Changes to backpacker visa and Seasonal Worker Program
On 5 November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced changes to Australia’s backpacker visa scheme to encourage more backpackers to work on farms, and for longer stints. Devpolicy research and commentary had cautioned against these changes due to their potential impact on Pacific development via the Seasonal Worker Program, and the centre’s commentary was in the media extensively in the lead-up to and after the announcement.
- Proposed backpacker visa reform will increase worker exploitation and cause strategic damage, Stephen Howes, Devpolicy Blog, 28 September 2018
- PM cautioned: don’t trade Pacific seasonal workers for rich backpackers, ABC PM, 17 October 2018
- Bringing in backpackers is not the right way to get more workers onto farms, Stephen Howes, The Conversation, 18 October 2018
- Australia to relax working holiday visas for backpackers and Pacific Islanders, The Guardian, 5 November 2018.
- Backpacker threat to Pacific farm labour, The Australian, 6 November 2018
- Fears backpacker visa extension could see less Pacific workers employed on Australian farms, ABC AM, 6 November 2018.
- Visa changes will see farmers employ backpackers over Pacific workers, say experts, SBS News, 8 November 2018.
Prior to the changes to the backpacker visa scheme, the National Party and National Farmers’ Federation were campaigning for a new agricultural visa for temporary migrants to Australia. In early September 2018, it looked like this may have become a reality, despite significant impacts for Pacific island workers. However, a decision on a new agricultural visa has now been delayed.
Devpolicy’s analysis has been cited across the media during this debate.
- Is a new visa for agricultural work needed?, Matthew Dornan, Stephen Howes and Richard Curtain on the Devpolicy Blog, 13 September
- We already have an agricultural visa, Stephen Howes in The Lowy Interpreter, 14 September
- Warnings new visa would threaten Pacific seasonal worker scheme, interview with Stephen Howes on ABC Pacific Beat, 14 September
- New agriculture visa could spell trouble for Pacific farm workers, interview with Stephen Howes on ABC The World Today, 14 September
- SWP to be sidelined, Vanuatu Daily Post, 15 September.
- Why yet another visa for farm work makes no sense, Stephen Howes in The Conversation, 17 September
- Diplomat wants more Papua New Guineans in Australia’s seasonal worker scheme, interview with Matthew Dornan on ABC Pacific Beat, 17 September.
- Australia delays controversial agriculture visa, interview with Stephen Howes on Radio NZ, 18 September
- Agriculture visa delayed, Vanuatu Daily Post, 18 September.
- New Australian labour visa could kill benefits for Pacific, interview with Stephen Howes on Radio NZ, 18 September
- McCormack retreats on farm worker visas, Stephen Howes in The Australian, 19 September
- Deputy Prime Minister under threat amid bitter battle within federal National Party, Stephen Howes quoted by ABC News, 20 September
- Nats MPs kept in the dark over McCormack’s Asian farm visa idea, Stephen Howes quoted in The Australian, 24 September
- Labour shortages, hours of paperwork and uncertainty lead farmers to push for new ‘ag visa’, ABC Rural, 9 October
- Amid fears surrounding new Agriculture Visa, Solomon Islands PM urges Aus, NZ to take Pacific workers, ABC Pacific Beat, 12 October
On the Devpolicy Blog, we have been providing updates on the developments on these visa changes and proposals. Read the rolling blog here.