Where to from here - the 457 visa

Apr 21, 2017

Dairy is a highly dynamic industry offering lots of opportunities for career growth and development. However, it is no secret that we have domestic labour shortages in regional and rural areas.

Our preference is always to hire Australian workers, but there are not always enough experienced farmhands to meet the demand of our industry. This is despite more than a decade of offering training courses and pathway programs for Australian workers to enter the dairy industry.

ADF has continued to lobby the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for regulation amendments to visas allowing overseas workers to fill vital on-farm and off-farm roles.

This week, the Government announced that the 457 Temporary Work visa will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage visa by March 2018. ADF is concerned with the changes and is seeking clarification on many aspects from the DIPB.

We have now been advised that the current visa changes will have no impact on the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement, which allows dairy farmers to recruit senior farm hands. We have been assured that:

  • our existing labour agreements remaining in effect;
  • our existing visa holders not impacted unless they apply for another visa impacted by the changes outside of the labour agreement programme; or
  • new nominations that we intend to lodge/related visa applications are not impacted – including applications for occupations which have been ‘removed’ from the standard programme or are now subject to a caveat in the standard programme but remain specified in our agreement.

We also understand that under these changes, which come into effect immediately:

  • dairy cattle farmers are included on the short-term skilled occupation list and only able to apply for a 2-year visa;
  • 2-year visas can only be renewed once, which will lead to an increase in administrative burden and red tape on farmers looking to access these new visas;
  • dairy, like other agricultural commodities is not included on the medium to long term strategic skilled occupation list to access 4-year visas; and
  • changes have been made to the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa and to the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.

We are still in the process of gaining clarification on what will happen to current visa applicants who are waiting on approvals and the additional occupations available to support regional employers. 

ADF supports the employment of overseas workers to fill vital on-farm roles. We will continue to liaise with government to ensure dairy farmers that need to employ overseas staff can do so.

John McQueen

Interim ADF Chief Executive Officer

 

ADF opposes backpacker tax

Feb 05, 2016

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has joined the National Farmers Federation (NFF) in calling for the Federal Government to halt the proposed backpacker tax.

As part of the 2015 Federal Budget the government announced that from 1 July 2016 all working holiday makers will be taxed at a rate of 32.5 per cent on all income.

ADF President Simone Jolliffe said that dairy farmers rely on backpackers for vital on-farm roles which cannot be filled locally or to complement their existing workforce during peak times.

“The dairy industry is suffering a skilled labour shortage which means that we need overseas workers, such as backpackers, when we cannot find suitable local staff,” Ms Jolliffe said.

“If this tax is brought in as it currently stands, backpackers may choose to travel to other countries such as New Zealand.”

“This would be damaging to the dairy industry, regional communities and the tourism industry, as well as the broader economy.”

Backpackers currently earn, on average, about $15,000 while in Australia, and may be eligible to claim the tax-free threshold.

“ADF believes it is fair and reasonable for backpackers to pay some tax, but 32.5c is excessive,” Ms Jolliffe said.

“We are supporting NFF’s position that 19 per cent, achieved through deactivation of the tax-free threshold, is fairer to both backpackers and the agricultural industry which relies on them.”

We encourage everyone who understands the significant contribution backpackers make to agriculture to support NFF’s campaign by signing an online petition.

To join the petition, go to https://www.change.org/p/australian-government-stop-the-backpacker-tax


Labour template to address skills shortage

Aug 18, 2015

Under the Dairy Industry Template Labour Agreement, finalised with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 17 July 2015, dairy farmers are now able to recruit senior farmhands from overseas on 457 Visas as well as farm managers.

Eligibility for the 457 visa was previously restricted to farm managers which the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) recognises as skill level 1. Feedback indicated however that many farm employers were seeking workers with qualifications one level under management – capable of organising day-to-day operations but not necessarily making major decisions.

The Australian dairy industry is in a position to grow substantially over the next decade to meet the burgeoning demand across Asia for high quality, safe dairy products. Yet the industry’s capacity to increase production is fundamentally constrained by a chronic shortage of skilled labour in the Australian pool.

Recognising this, in 2014 Dairy Australia, in collaboration with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) approached the Department of Immigration with the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement Template. The agreement is designed to give farmers more options when seeking labour by expanding the eligibility criteria for 457 visas and reducing paperwork.

Chair of ADF Policy Advisory Group in the People and Human Capacity space, John Versteden said the agreement provides another option for farmers to fill the short term skills gap for farmhands in Australian dairy.

“The dairy industry’s most valuable asset is the people who work in it, which is why it is important to commit to attracting, retaining and developing the most skilled labour,” Mr Versteden said.

“While our preference is always to hire Australian workers, there are not enough experienced, available farmhands to meet the demand in a growing industry.”

The industry has invested heavily in training and upskilling its workforce, including via certificate and diploma courses offered through the National Dairy Education Centre (NCDE) since 2006. Although student numbers are steadily growing, it is still not enough to meet dairy’s growing demand for skilled workers as production scales up to meet growing export demand.

Senior farmhands recruited under the labour agreement must have Certificate III or equivalent qualifications in addition to at least three years of recent and relevant experience, or alternatively five years of recent and relevant experience.

You can find further information on the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement Template via http://www.thepeopleindairy.org.au/engagement-reward/contracts-and-agreements.htm


ADIC reiterates need to implement China-Australia FTA in 2015

Jul 31, 2015

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has reiterated the importance of ratifying the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) within the 2015 calendar year, to ensure the benefits can reach Australian producers as quickly as possible.

Any delay in implementation of the deal beyond 31 December 2015 will cost Australian dairy between $20 million and $60 million in tariffs. This will make it more difficult for the Australian industry to compete and gain further market share.

ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell said while the council recognised that debate about the ChAFTA is part and parcel of a vibrant democracy, the Parliament needed to keep in mind the opportunities at stake for agriculture and food production.

“For Australian dairy to grow and invest in our future profitability, we will require markets that offer a way forward and match our progress,” Mr Campbell said.

“China’s population is set to reach 1.6 billion by 2050 offering enormous opportunity to sustainably grow beyond domestic markets. Our opportunity in China is underpinned by their demand for high quality, safe, value-added products such as infant formula.

Mr Campbell reiterated that parliamentary support for the agreement, that sees the removal of all tariffs on dairy imports over a decade, remains essential.

“With a long record of innovation and adaptation to changing conditions and markets, Australia’s dairy producers are in a strong position to meet the particular demands of boosting exports to China and growing our market share,” Mr Campbell explained.

The Australian dairy industry has had a long and close relationship with China and ChAFTA will allow our industries to further develop this long-term relationship to the mutual benefit of both countries.

Timing is of the essence. If farmers are to maximise benefits from the removal of tariffs then the deal must be implemented in this calendar year.”

The ADIC looks forward to working with both sides of Government to ensure the implementation of the ChAFTA by 31 December 2015. 

 


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