One of my immediate concerns of the incoming Labor Government is their history of disconnect on regional issues and with regional people.
The Labor Government’s contempt for regional businesses and people is on full display with their management of the Department of Home Affairs. As the Australian Financial Review reported this week, the government has cut $875 million from the department’s budget.
This will exacerbate the blown out wait times for visas, especially the 491 visa which allow for skilled workers in regional areas. I don’t need to tell anyone reading this the impact of our current labour shortage with a nation-wide record of 423,500 vacancies.
Businesses are crying out for more workers as our local economy battles the current labour crisis, along with the rising cost of living and inflation. It is vital workers can help plug the skills shortages locally.
The figures from Home Affairs are outstanding. Some skilled visa applicants are waiting almost two years to have their applications completed. Furthermore, the number of skilled temporary visas holders is down 33% since the beginning of the pandemic.
This is all execrated by the Labor government’s capitulation to the Australian Workers Union and their intention to cancel the Agricultural Visa. This was a targeted program designed to get the workers growers need and get them to the regions. It was also implemented to cover the expected drop in UK backpackers in the regions due to changes in the recent Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement. The Labor Government have not outlined any plan for the agricultural workforce in the regions besides blindly following their own ideological and union mate’s interests.
Under the Nationals in Government, we committed our agriculture sector to boom to a $100 billion industry by 2030. Our food and fibre industry is fuelling our nation, literally and economically. Labor have put this all at risk.
Labor need to take off their political blinkers and get real about labour shortages in the regions.