Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, and the Minister for Small Business and Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, today took part in an employment roundtable with Riverina locals in the agricultural sector.
Minister McCormack said it was important to hear farm businesses’ issues firsthand, to ensure government policies and programs supported them as intended.
“The Federal Government’s policies and programs are aimed at skilling up Australians and encouraging locals to fill job opportunities, and continuing to ensure Australia remains an internationally attractive and competitive destination to overseas workers,” Minister Hartsuyker said.
“As a region with significant numbers of horticulture producers, it is important that Riverina businesses have a strong workforce come harvest time—including working holiday makers and seasonal workers.
“Our measures to encourage working holiday makers include a competitive tax rate, and allowing them to work for the same employer for up to 12 months—with the second six months in a new location.
“As well, we are providing $10 million to Tourism Australia for a youth-targeted advertising campaign, an additional $10 million to the Australian Taxation Office and Fair Work Ombudsman to establish an employer register and assist with compliance initiatives and increasing the age cap to 35 years.
“We have removed the cap on the Seasonal Worker Programme and expanded it into broader agricultural industries—giving farm businesses more options for seasonal labour during harvest and other busy periods with much greater certainty.
“The government is also creating opportunities for more Australians, in particular young unemployed Australians, to take up opportunities in the agriculture sector through the Seasonal Worker Incentives Trial—which will allow 7600 Australian job seekers over two years to earn up to $5000 in seasonal work without affecting income support payments.”
Minister McCormack thanked local businesses for attending the roundtable and putting forward their views.
“Today’s meeting enabled local farm businesses to provide us with invaluable insight into the local industry,” Minister Hartsuyker said.
“The government understands that working holiday makers and seasonal workers are a vital source of labour in the agriculture sector, including in the Riverina, and it is important our policies and programs keep on supporting this, along with encouraging locals to take up the opportunities that arise.”