The UK’s free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia is likely have repercussions for South-East Asians. As young British visitors to Australia will no longer be required to complete the required 88 days of farm work as part of their working-holiday visa, the Australian government is to introduce new farm work visas for South-East Asians to fill the gap.
The coalition government has promised to deliver a new agriculture visa before the end of the year to assist with any labour shortages. The move comes at a time when the Australian horticulture industry is already struggling to find workers due to international travel bans. It is believed British backpackers account for up to 10,000 workers during the peak harvest period.
The new farm work visa will be offered to citizens of countries in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Brunei and Cambodia.
As part of the FTA announcement between the UK and Australia, a new two-way visa is to be established between the countries for farm workers.
The nation’s leading farm lobby, the National Farmers Federation (NFF), is reported to have said that it will only believe the government’s promise when it sees it.