Worker reforms welcomed by NSW Farmers


NSW Farmers welcomes efforts by the Australian Government to streamline the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) under the new Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, providing a simplified process for farm businesses to access the schemes. 

The Government’s commitment to bring an additional 12,500 workers from the Pacific region by March 2022 to work in Australian sectors including agriculture will help alleviate the workforce shortage crisis continuing to threaten the productivity of farm enterprises. 

“A single application process will be now be available to become an approved employer under the PLS and SWP, and existing approved employers will have mutual recognition under both schemes,” Mr Jackson said. 
 
“Doubling the recruitment caps for SWP approved employers will make it easier for approved employers to scale up their recruitment capacity and in turn these labour hire approved employers can expand the pool of workers available to some farms. 

“The extended validity period for labour market testing to 12 months will reduce red tape for employers.

“The Australian Government’s commitment to respond to applications within six to eight weeks could help alleviate concerns around the timeliness of applications being processed.”

Mr Jackson said the changes were promising, however they will not be a silver bullet nor will they benefit all enterprises.

“The influx of workers under PALM will aid agriculture, but competition will arise from other sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, who are also struggling to shore up a workforce at the moment,” Mr Jackson said.

“We must not forget that programs such as SWP remain inaccessible for smaller growers with high seasonality, owing to the inflexibility of such programs in moving workers between workplaces.

“Increased portability for sharing of workers and increased flexibility to move workers between workplaces will improve accessibility to the SWP for smaller enterprises. These two features, which have been trialed through the Regional Pilot and Worker Portability Pilot, should be expanded beyond the trial region. 

“NSW Farmers looks forward to the second phase of reform to the SWP and PLS as foreshadowed in the announcement.”  

Date: Wednesday, 15 September 2021
Media Contact:  Stephen Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | mudds@nswfarmers.org.au