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Regional areas left behind in Labor’s migration reform

Leader of The Nationals, David Littleproud, believes the Federal Labor Government’s reforms of the migration system are a start, but lack a clear strategy to help combat widespread worker shortages in rural, regional, and remote Australia.

Mr Littleproud said The Nationals were eager to have a genuine conversation with the Government, to help form a regional strategy that would build on targeted reforms and programs launched by the former Coalition government, which were aimed at addressing widespread worker and skills shortages.

“This is why we introduced the dedicated Agriculture Visa, which would have helped alleviate the severe worker shortages that regional Australia, and the entire supply chain, is currently facing, while also creating a new pathway to permanent residency through the Ag Visa, ” Mr Littleproud said.

“At last year’s job summit, we built on the introduction of the Ag Visa by highlighting the need for a regional visa to create an additional pathway for permanent residence in the regions.

“The Ag Visa was the biggest structural reform to the agricultural workforce in our nation’s history – and would have assisted in securing a workforce of the future to support this sector in reaching its goal of $100 billion in value by 2030.

“However, Labor’s decision to scrap this visa is unconscionable and is a massive kick in the guts for our farmers.”

During Thursday’s announcement, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the government would take an evidence-based approach to identifying industries with skills shortages.

Mr Littleproud said the evidence and impact of worker shortages, not just in agriculture, but in a variety of industries including care, construction, and engineering, was already plain to see in regional areas.

“By bringing in this step, the Labor government has added in another level of bureaucracy in identifying skill shortages,” Mr Littleproud said.

“If they just left the city and visited regional areas, like The Nationals do every day, they would see the evidence of worker shortages for themselves.

“The challenges that we face in regional Australia are real and we want to be part of those solutions in a constructive way.

“We know that workforce shortages in our nation are far more acutely felt in regional communities. That’s why The Nationals are here, and willing to be part of any constructive or practical solutions.”

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