Page 8 - April 2018
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Changes to the temporary skilled
migration program – what does it
mean for pig producers?
THIS month, the gov- ernment will abolish the subclass 457 visa, re- placing it with the Tem- porary Skills Shortage visa.
This change forms part of a package of reforms to the temporary skilled migration program an- nounced in April 2017.
At last year’s Australian Pork Limited AGM and Delegates’ Forum, par- ticipants made clear that addressing the potential impact of these changes should be an APL priority.
The changes will block access to permanent resi- dency for workers nomi- nated under the ANZSCO skilled occupation ‘Pig Farmer’, reducing the du- ration of those visas to two years (down from the current four years), im- pose more onerous labour market testing provisions and introduce new fees and levies for visa spon- sors.
APL has been working with industry and the rele- vant government agencies to minimise the impact of the changes for producers.
We met representatives of the Minister for Agri- culture, the Minister for Jobs and Innovation and other political representa- tives to put forward our industry’s concerns.
We engaged with the Department of Home Af- fairs to maintain the in- tegrity of the Pork Indus- try Labour Agreement.
And we have provided detailed submissions on the skills and workforce challenges faced by the pork industry, drawing on information provided by producers in last year’s labour survey.
You can read APL’s full submission to the Depart- ment of Home Affairs (which is responsible for migration) at australian
So with changes about to be implemented, where does industry stand?
At the most basic lev- el, sponsors nominating workers under the AN- ZSCO skilled occupation ‘Pig Farmer’ through the TSS visa program will only have access to a two- year visa.
This visa can be re- newed once, with no op- tion to apply for perma- nent residency.
But there is a potentially significant caveat to this arrangement.
The government is due to announce this month a list of skilled occupa- tions for which a ‘regional Australia’ exception will apply.
Occupations on this list will have access to a four- year visa and subsequent eligibility for permanent residency (under similar arrangements to the old 457 system) if the place of employment is considered to be in ‘regional Aus- tralia’.
The Department of Home Affairs defines re- gional Australia as NSW, excluding Sydney, New- castle and Wollongong;
Queensland, excluding the greater Brisbane area and the Gold Coast; Victoria, excluding the Melbourne metropolitan area; West- ern Australia, excluding Perth and the surround- ing area; and all of South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and ACT.
We are hopeful the ‘Pig Farmer’ and ‘Agricultural Technician’ occupations will be included on the regional list.
The fee to apply for the short-term TSS visa will be $1150.
In addition, sponsors will be required to con- tribute to the new ‘Skill- ing Australians Fund’ an amount of $1200 per nominated worker, per year for smaller busi- nesses (turnover less than $10 million) and $1800 per nominated worker, per year for medium and large businesses.
This replaces the current requirement for employ- ers sponsoring temporary overseas workers to show evidence of either spend- ing 1 percent of their an- nual payroll on training Australian workers or do- nating 2 percent of the annual payroll to an ap- proved training fund.
In addition to the nor- mal, mainstream 457/TSS skilled migration pro- gram, pig producers have access to the Pork Indus- try Labour Agreement.
This agreement was put in place after the gov- ernment recognised the unique skills challenges faced by our industry and the scarcity of appropri- ate piggery labour in Aus- tralia.
The PILA creates a unique occupation cat- egory, Senior Stockperson (Piggery), tailored for in- dustry to meet the skills needs of producers that could not be met under the mainstream program.
The Senior Stockperson (Piggery) occupation has a lower skill-level require- ment compared to the mainstream ANZSCO category Pig Farmer (which is more of a farm supervisor role).
This means a wider range of applicants can be considered for sponsor- ship in a greater variety of roles.
The PILA, as updated by the DHA, quarantines industry from the changes to the mainstream pro- gram that had raised most concern among produc- ers; that is, the reduction in the visa period and the disruption of the pathway to permanency for spon-
sored workers.
Workers sponsored un-
der the PILA will have access to a four-year TSS visa with eligibility to apply for permanent resi- dency.
The PILA is available to producers nationwide, not just those in ‘regional Australia’.
In an important im- provement to the terms of the PILA, APL negoti- ated to have the minimum visa-holding period before eligibility for permanent residency reduced from four to three years.
This change will facili- tate a smoother transition between visa categories for workers and sponsors alike.
DHA has expressed a willingness to consider adding occupation cate- gories such as Pig Farmer to the PILA in future.
We believe this would add even greater flex- ibility for producers, es- pecially those unable to access the regional Aus- tralia provisions under the mainstream TSS visa program.
Between the (possi- ble) inclusion of the Pig Farmer occupation on the regional list and the positive outcome of nego- tiations around the PILA, APL is confident produc- ers have avoided the most potentially damaging ef- fects caused by changes to the skilled migration program.
Our industry will main- tain access to skilled workers from abroad, in- cluding a pathway to per- manency, which is vital to addressing the challenge of skilled labour short- ages in the long term.
Finally, a few practical tips for producers with overseas workers:
• Existing 457 visas will be allowed to continue un- til they expire. There is no need to switch workers over to the TSS.
• After the abolition of the 457 visa (expected to be announced in late March), any new appli- cations will need to be made for the TSS (short term) visa under both the mainstream and PILA programs.
• The Skilling Austral- ians Fund has not yet been formally established, so no funds will be levied until after this occurs.
• DHA will be pub- lishing a fact sheet with more practical informa- tion about the PILA. APL encourages producers to consider the PILA as an alternative to the main- stream TSS program.
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SKIOLD & Vacuum Milling Solutions                                                                    
Page 8 – Australian Pork Newspaper, March 2018
Policy Analyst

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