Visa program changes to benefit farmers
The Coalition Government has made changes to two visa programs that will help resolve agricultural labour shortages in the Parkes electorate, assisting farmers to continue to do what they do best.
Adjustments to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) subclass 417 and 462 visa program have been designed to target workforce shortages in regional Australia, without displacing Australian workers.
Changes to the program include lifting the annual caps on visas, expanding the number of regional areas where WHM visa holders can work for three months in specified farming work, and allowing 12 months of work with the same agricultural employer.
Adjustments are also being made to the Seasonal Worker Program, including increasing the period of work in Australia to nine months for all workers (it is currently six months for some countries) and reducing out of pocket expenses for employers.
These changes will assist farmers this season by providing greater capacity to meet their workforce needs, including at harvest time.
We remain focused on addressing this issue by providing more workforce options and flexibility to help farmers pick their fruit and harvest their crops.
These incentives will encourage more workers to the regions that need them and provide working holiday makers with more flexibility, as well as the opportunity to experience living and working in our rural communities.
Farmers and job seekers can get in touch with the National Harvest Labour Information Service on 1800 062 332, to help resolve issues with supplying workers at harvest time.
Reforms to native title system
Australians are invited to provide comment on exposure drafts of native title legislation recently released by the Coalition Government. These are the Native Title Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 and the Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate Legislation Amendment Regulations 2018.
Native title is an important matter for Indigenous, and non-Indigenous communities right across the Parkes electorate.
The exposure drafts have been developed following a consultation process undertaken earlier this year on an options paper for native title reform. That consultation involved more than 40 stakeholder meetings across the country, and technical assistance from an Expert Technical Advisory Group. There were more than 50 submissions received on the options paper.
Interested parties are encouraged to provide give their feedback on the proposed amendments, with submissions closing 10 December 2018.
The amendments contained in the exposure drafts are intended to improve the native title system for all parties by streamlining claims resolution and agreement-making processes, supporting the capacity of native title claimants through greater flexibility around internal decision-making, and other means.
A consultation paper sets out the policy objectives of the proposed reforms and provides detailed guidance on the amendments. More information on the reforms process, including the exposure drafts, is available at https://www.ag.gov.au/Consultations/Pages/Exposure-draft-native-title-reforms.aspx
Grants for schools, community groups
I am backing local schools and community groups to apply for a new round of grants funding from the Coalition Government. The Maker Projects grants will deliver funding between $2,000 and $20,000 towards projects that boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It’s great to be supporting our kids to learn these skills, helping their future jobs prospects and growing an even stronger economy.
Grants are available from the Coalition Government to Australian schools and community organisations, encouraging practical skills, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. They are awarded on a first in basis until funding is exhausted and we expect demand to be high. Schools and community organisations can find out if they’re eligible and what they need to do to prepare their application by visiting business.gov.au/mp