The peak body representing the post-farm-gate meat industry has swiftly lashed out at the Federal government’s lack of consultation before abolishing 457 temporary skilled work visas on Tuesday.
The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), who represents retailers, processors, exporters and smallgoods manufacturers in the meat industry, said the move had the potential to impact the future viability of the meat industry.
AMIC spokesperson Patrick Hutchinson said the industry was already under pressure from external challenges including the worst terms of trade on record, high input costs and increasing regulatory burdens.
“Meat processors are the largest employers in rural and regional Australia, after mining, and the unexpected Turnbull government’s announcement has sent shockwaves through the industry,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“There are so many questions we simply don’t have answers to and quite frankly – that isn’t good enough.
“We don’t know what occupations will be impacted, as outlined by the Federal Immigration Minister (Peter Dutton), and how in turn this will affect the industry.
“We don’t know how the outcomes of the ‘Best and Brightest’ test will be applied.
“We don’t know about what access the sector will have to the training fund.
“There is also a great deal of uncertainty regarding the status of existing (migration) 457 Visa applications have not yet been approved.
“Our door is always open and we hope to have the opportunity to sit down with the government on this critical issue, so it can provide clarity for the sector.
“In our industry, we need certainty to forward plan and that includes being able to plan around employment.”
Mr Hutchinson added a number of unique skill sets were required within the meat processing plus general post-farm-gate meat sector and a critical number of these positions were filled by employees on migration 457 Visas.
“Recruitment of staff always has been and always will be about finding people with the right skill set for the job who are willing to work within our industry environment in regional and rural Australia,” he said.
“AMIC’s focus is on keeping the supply chain moving and as the peak council for Australia’s post-farm-gate meat industry, we call on the government to have an open and honest conversation with us to ensure the sector’s longevity and its international competitiveness.
“We are relieved that current 457 visa holders will be unaffected by the announcement.”