Albanese Government delivering agriculture workforce solutions

16 December 2022

Just three months on from the Jobs and Skills Summit, the Albanese Government is delivering tangible improvements for workers and employers in Australia’s agriculture and meat processing sector.
 
The newly formed Tripartite Agricultural Workforce Working Group was briefed on this progress at its third meeting, at NFF House in Canberra yesterday (Thursday).
 
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the Albanese Government had not wasted a minute addressing the longstanding workforce issues in the industry.
 
“We know that there are some longstanding issues with the agriculture workforce that emerged over successive governments and they will take time to resolve,” Minister Watt said.
 
“But it’s pleasing to see progress being made to deliver the workers industry needs and the protections those workers deserve.
 
“The government has already begun delivering on its commitment to expand and improve the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
 
“We now have the highest ever number of PALM scheme workers in the country, with more than 33,700 workers in Australia right now. 
 
“That’s an increase of 2,000 just since the end of October and another 40,000 Pacific workers have been pre-screened as suitable.
 
“Today I can also announce that we will expand access to the PALM scheme to metropolitan-based employers in select agriculture-related food manufacturing sectors.
 
“This means meat, seafood and fruit and vegetable processing employers in metropolitan areas can apply to be approved under the PALM scheme and employ PALM workers to fill labour shortages.”
 
Minister Watt said the Albanese Government is also making it a priority to grow the amount of skilled local workers being trained for careers in agriculture.
 
“Already, through the great work of Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor, we will deliver around 13,000 new fee-free TAFE and VET places for students in agriculture courses across the country,” he said.
 
“This will address workforce shortages across a number of sectors who are crying out for skilled workers just to get their product to market.

“Today’s tripartite working group also agreed to pursue further opportunities to ensure agricultural workers are treated fairly and enjoy good conditions.
 
“This working group is breaking new ground in bringing together government, unions and employer groups across agriculture and meat processing,” Minister Watt said.
 
“We want to harness this spirit of collaboration to pursue solutions to better skill, attract, protect, and retain workers in the agriculture and processing sectors.
 
“Together we have developed a submission to the A Migration System for Australia’s Future Review which sets out agreed principles for migration in agriculture and its related processing sectors”
 
“We know there is a lot more to do, but hitting these milestones is a credit to all involved in the working group. 
 
“In the new year, we will keep working cooperatively to take more of these ideas forward.”
 
For more information on the Agricultural Workforce Working Group visit Agricultural Workforce Working Group - DAFF (agriculture.gov.au)