Having made the agricultural workforce shortage worse by imposing a new revenue-grabbing backpacker tax, it seems the Morrison Government is now scrambling to fix a problem which in part is of its own making.
Reports Scott Morrison is looking to change conditions for backpacker visas is the latest in an ever-growing list of thought bubbles from an out of touch Prime Minister.
The agricultural workforce challenge is a complex one and won’t be addressed by on-the-run announcements designed only to give Scott Morrison something to say on his Queensland bus tour.
We already know forcing unemployment recipients to work on farms is lazy policy which has been rejected by growers and this Government has shown no interest in doing more to encourage Australians to take up agricultural workforce opportunities.
Can the Prime Minister guarantee his latest thought bubble will work and why does his Government believe that more people from overseas on temporary work visas is the solution to every problem?
Given that migrant workers in Australia have already suffered over $1 billion in wage theft whilst working on temporary visas – what measures will be put in place to guarantee the Government’s new announcements won’t undercut the pay and conditions for all workers?
These proposed changes also suggest the Agricultural Visa – promised by both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister – is dead in the water.
Prior to the Wentworth by-election the Prime Minister was re-stating his commitment to an Agricultural Visa, before taking it off the table following the by-election, and then promising the new visa at the National Farmers’ Federation Congress.
Scott Morrison and Michael McCormack must immediately clarify the Government’s position.
It’s clear the internal divisions in the Coalition are why Morrison’s Muppet Show has failed to develop a policy to address agricultural labour market shortages – their chaos and confusion continues to hurt our farmers and cause anxiety for the sector.