Member for North West Central Merome Beard has raised grave concerns in relation to key elements of the current review into Australia’s migration system undertaken by Anthony Albanese and Federal Labor.
In March this year following a review of the migration system in Australia, an expert panel provided their final report to Minister O’Neil, outlining advice on ways to reform the migration system in Australia.
Buried deep on page 89 of the report is a recommendation to dramatically alter the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa pathway which should sound warning bells for regional communities across the state according to Ms Beard.
“Migration is vital to jobs in regional and remote parts of WA. Backpackers or working holiday makers are a much loved, valued and essential part of the employment puzzle in my electorate. Hearing there could be major changes around the corner caught me and many in the community by surprise, said Ms Beard.
“I recently wrote to the Minister for Home Affairs seeking her assurance the regional work incentive would not be removed from the working holiday maker pathway.”
“The backpacker visa is critically important to all parts of the electorate and if changes are made to remove the need to work in regional areas to gain the extra time on this visa, the flow on impacts on local businesses across industries such as agriculture, tourism and hospitality, could be catastrophic,” said Ms Beard.
“There are currently around 137,000 WHM in Australia, making up some 80% of the harvest horticulture workforce and filling key roles in regional economies, and if this is lost from the mix the impact on this industry could be enormous.”
This cohort of WHM are a very important part of the employment mix, bringing skill sets and cultural exchange to the regions while filling an unmet gap”.
“How the Federal Government responds to this migration review and specifically the backpacker visa will be another test of their understanding of the regions. Levels of community respect have already been lost when they abolished the Ag Visa,” said Ms Beard.
“Getting it wrong on the migration review might just indicate to our community the gloss has come off Labor when it comes to ‘common sense’ in regional WA,” said Ms Beard.
Ms Beard extended an invitation to meet with the Minister for Home Affairs to discuss this issue. To date no response has been received.
The full report can be accessed here: Review of the Migration System (homeaffairs.gov.au)