Proposed agricultural visas to allow more seasonal farming workers in Australia aren’t dead, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed.
The Nationals were pushing for the seasonal worker program to be expanded to Asian countries, but the Liberals squashed the plan due to concerns over how it would hurt relationships with Pacific countries.
Now the prime minister says the plan isn’t dead, as Nationals MPs confirm they’re still keen on it.
‘The government has made no decision about not having such a visa in the future,’ Mr Morrison told parliament on Monday.
‘Australian jobs should go to Australian workers first, and we need to ensure that all those who are working on farms have the appropriate protections, are paid properly, and we are not having illegal workers working on our farms in Australia.’
Earlier, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the Nationals were still interested in agricultural visas to open up the workforce.
‘It’s definitely not dead,’ he told the ABC.
‘It’s not rocket science but we need to get the science right and we need to work quickly through that.
‘Whether it’s an ag visa or a change in current programs, it’s not over yet, let me make that clear to the Australian farmers.’
The Liberals are concerned undermining the Pacific Islander Scheme would hurt efforts to keep Pacific nations onside, especially as China is making significant diplomatic inroads in the region.