Concern over changes to 457 visas

David Jochinke.

David Jochinke.

THE federal government’s decision to scrap 457 temporary visas for skilled migrants has sparked concern from the meat processing and dairy industries about the impact on their workforces.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), which represents meat processors, said it was concerned that butchers and smallgoods operators would no longer be among the occupations for which temporary visas would be granted under new arrangements.

AMIC chairman Lachlan Hart said it understood slaughtermen and boners from overseas would still be granted temporary visas.

Many meatworks throughout Australia, including Midfield Meat in Warrnambool, have used overseas meatworkers on 457 visas to fill labour shortages.

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) said the agriculture industry should “get a seat at the table in any planned overhaul of the visa system in a bid to avoid the same breakdown in negotiations that last year befell the controversial backpacker tax.”

VFF president David Jochinke said “everyone is still licking their wounds over the messy negotiations around the backpacker tax last year, and no one wants to see that scenario played out for a second time.”

The national dairy farmer body, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), is seeking assurances there will not be any changes to the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement under the new arrangements that tighten access by foreign workers to visas

ADF said that under the agreement, dairy farmers could hire senior farmhands as well as farm managers from overseas if there was a lack of local labour.

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