Senate debates

Thursday, 26 August 2021


Agriculture Visa

1:32 pm

Photo of Susan McDonaldSusan McDonald (Queensland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] I rise to highlight the successful collaboration between the agricultural industry and the Morrison government to implement the new agriculture visa announced with much fanfare this week. This visa has been welcomed by every major agricultural body in the country, but for some reason Labor have still managed to criticise it. They don't understand agriculture and they only give a token nod to the sector when there's an election coming.

This negativity only serves to distract from the lack of urgency shown by the Queensland Labor government in speeding up its processing of some of the 25,000 Pacific islanders with visas preapproved by the federal government. Growcom reports that Queensland is still 9,000 workers short, and the painfully slow processing of Pacific islanders resulted in $42 million worth of crops—Queensland crops—being left to rot.

In Queensland, only six properties are permitted to facilitate on-farm quarantining at any time. Even then, other farmers have gone to [inaudible], some at great expense, to set up on-farm quarantine, and the Queensland government has knocked them back. Farmers have been crying out for Annastacia Palaszczuk to speed things up and investigate a regional quarantine centre in North Queensland, which would be especially helpful for smaller producers, and much needed, considering hotel quarantine places in Brisbane and Cairns are at capacity. State LNP member for Burdekin, Dale Last, must be congratulated for being especially active in this endeavour. He has identified a mining camp south-west of Mackay that is fully capable of taking scores of quarantining workers at this time.

The new visa expands the scope of workers to include skilled and qualified people to undertake more technical jobs. This means we can bring in not only labourers but also people qualified in heavy machinery operation, animal husbandry, logistics management and stock work. I congratulate agriculture minister David Littleproud.