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Expansion of Seasonal Worker Program a 'win-win'

28 June, 2015

The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) has commended the Federal Government on its decision to expand and streamline the Seasonal Worker Program to better align with the seasonal nature of Australian agriculture.

Established by the Government in 2008 in response to an NFF recommendation, the aid based Program benefits both farmers and workers, helping to fill short-term labour needs while opening up new opportunities for individuals and small villages in Timor-Leste and the eight participating Pacific nations.

NFF President Brent Finlay said the new measures were a key element of the recently released White Paper on Developing Northern Australia that will boost the productivity of the agriculture sector.

"The Seasonal Worker Program is one of agriculture's great success stories, contributing to the economic development of the region, and offering Australian farmers the opportunity to substantially lift output during critical harvest times of the year," Finlay said.

"These changes will mean access to the program for all agricultural industries, which is great news for farmers. It means that current limits to horticulture, cotton, cane and aquaculture will no longer apply.

"Our neighbours in the Pacific and East Timor will have increased opportunity to improve their lives; and the Australian agriculture sector will benefit from labour market supply better meeting demand," Finlay said.

The NFF acknowledged Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Minister for Employment Eric Abetz for their roles in delivering on the Program's expansion.

"If current predictions are right, the next 15 years will see agricultural exports double, and having enough workers to meet demand is a vital part of that. This is a win-win for all involved and we congratulate the Government for this policy initiative," Finlay concluded.

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