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Labor making workforce shortages in regional Victoria worse

Joint media release

The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Member for Wannon
Senator the Hon Sarah Henderson, Shadow Minister for Education, Senator for Victoria

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson, said businesses across regional Victoria faced higher costs or workforce shortages because of new Labor Government visa policy.

From 1 July, Labor has increased the minimum wage that a temporary migrant worker must be paid, up from $53,900 to $70,000.

Labor has been warned this change will have a negative impact on regional businesses and communities, where salaries, and the cost of living, tend to be lower than the large cities.

Businesses will have to pay temporary migrants workers the new higher wage, which will increase business costs, or face losing the worker, leading to workforce shortages.

If migrant workers can’t find a job paying the new higher wage they will have to leave the country or qualify for a different visa.

Leading experts warned the Labor Government about the damage this change would cause as part of its Review of the Migration System:

• “If TSMIT (Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold) is raised to $90,000 or even $70,000 then the likely result would be that agriculture will no longer be able to use the skilled migration program — or at least have its use severely restricted — thereby losing yet another important avenue for accessing labour,” the National Farmers’ Federation said.

• Raising the TSMIT to $70,000 would exclude 23,000 workers in the hospitality and retail industries and 7,800 workers in the manufacturing industry nationally, according to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia.

• “A significant increase to TSMIT in the immediate future would result in a large proportion of the early learning workforce – and many care sectors – being locked out”, the Early Learning and Care Council said.

Senator Henderson said Labor’s change would have a devastating impact on regional communities across Victoria.

“Most businesses in regional Victoria can’t afford to give workers a $16,100 pay rise, so that means letting workers go who have put down roots in our community,” Senator Henderson said.

“We should be doing everything we can to support skilled workers to make their home in regional Victoria and Labor’s visa changes will be like a wrecking ball through our community.

“When people in regional Victoria can’t get their children into childcare because of a lack of educators, they can blame Labor. When people can’t get a meal at the pub because there’s no chef, they can blame Labor. When the price of fresh fruit and vegetables go up because of worker shortages on farms, they can blame Labor.

“Any business or worker that is impacted by this change should contact my office so we can try to help.”

There are more than 67,000 migrant workers in Australia on the temporary work visas, and 57,200 supported family members.

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Dan Tehan said regional and rural Australia was bracing itself for worker shortages.

“Labor’s one-size-fits-all approach will have a devastating impact on regional businesses and the migrant workers who live in country towns,” Mr Tehan said.

“The Government was warned about the impact of this change but they ploughed on anyway because it keeps the unions happy.”

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