Labor’s attack on backpackers will add to workforce woes


Workforce shortages across key industries in Barker are about to get worse according to Tony Pasin MP, with the Albanese Labor Government making changes to the Working Holiday Maker visa.


Starting 1 July, Labor will increase the cost of the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa by $130 to $640, making it the highest fee visa of its kind in the world.


The Government is also considering cutting the visa to one-year and removing any regional work requirements.


Mr Pasin said many employers in Barker relied on backpackers to fill labour shortages and local communities welcomed backpackers to spend their earnings locally.


“At a time when regional communities are crying out for workers, increasing the cost of the visa, and considering reducing its length to one year and removing the regional work requirements just beggar’s belief,” Mr Pasin said.


“Backpackers play an important role in regional economies, filling labour gaps in hospitality and agriculture in particular,” Mr Pasin said.


There are more than 137,000 WHM visa holders currently in Australia who are spending money on holidays and working in critical industries. WHM visa holders make up to 80% of the harvest labour force in horticulture, while in other industries they account for 5% to 15% of the junior, casual and seasonal workforce.


These changes come only weeks following the announcement that changes to the PALM Scheme will force employers to hire short-term workers for a minimum of 30 hours per week, every week under the popular scheme.


“Under Labor 1.5 million people are coming to Australia over five years in the middle of a housing crisis, and Anthony Albanese’s solution is to price backpackers out of coming here and make the PALM scheme unworkable.”


“Labor simply doesn’t understand the regions,” Mr Pasin said.


Chair of Citrus SA Mark Doecke, said the citrus was extremely concerned that their workforce needs would not be met under a Labor Government.


“The Albanese Government continues to show a disconnect with Horticulture. They initially promised an increased number of people under the ASEAN farm workers visa scheme, but this program has since been scrapped. The PALM Scheme was a good option, but the latest changes are making that un-workable for many in the industry. Backpackers have always offered a great short-term solution, so changes to this visa would be very disappointing,” said Mr Doecke.


Media Contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8724 7730