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DAN TEHAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WANNON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
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2GB | HOLIDAYMAKER VISA | WITH MARK LEVY

June 27, 2023

SUBJECT | Holidaymaker Visa | 27 June 2023

Levy: People from all over the world come here for a chance to not only holiday but to earn a bit of money as well. Farmers rely on backpackers, and so do towns with a high turnover of tourists, they pick up jobs that are needed to keep businesses moving. But that's now come under threat. From July one, the price of a working holidaymaker visa is going up. Have a listen to this. The federal government will increase it by $130 to 640 bucks. That's the highest fee for a visa of its kind anywhere in the world. Anywhere in the world. But that's not the only worry. Labor is set to limit permits for working holidaymakers to one year, I thought we’d catch up with Dan Tehan, the Shadow Immigration Minister, and he's been good enough to join us nice and early on this Tuesday. Mr Tehan, good morning to you.

Tehan: Morning, Mark, how are you? And please call me Dan.

Levy: Thank you. Dan, It's very kind of you. The timing around this makes no sense. Well, I mean, we're crying out for tourists and backpackers. I've got mates of mine who are farmers that rely on fruit pickers and everything else, but we're making it even harder for them to get here.

Tehan: We are; 80% of our fruit pickers are backpackers and Labor wants to send all the signals that you're not welcome here in Australia. $130 increase for the backpacker visa and limiting it to one year possibly, it'll just devastate the industry. And this is at a time when they’re bringing 1.5 million people here to Australia. We don't know where they're going to be housed, we don't know if it’s going to cause rents to soar, so they want to be 1.5 million people here and at the same time kill the backpacker industry. It's crazy.

Levy: $640 is a lot of money. Gee, there won't be too many people here that will be able to afford that as far as tourists coming to this country, will there Dan?

Tehan: No, the backpackers, they'll look around, they'll look at what the price is to go to Canada, to the US, to Great Britain and elsewhere, and it's cheaper. We now have the highest backpacker visa in the world and what backpackers will look at is say, ‘Okay, the cost of living is biting. Where do I want to go on holiday and work?’ And it won't be Australia when we've got the highest backpacker fee, unfortunately.

Levy: The people I really feel for here too, Dan, are the farmers. I mentioned my mates who are farmers who rely on backpackers to come and help them out in fruit picking seasons and all these different things. Without them these farms and business owners fall behind, so that's obviously going to hurt as well.

Tehan: It will hurt, 80% of the workforce for our fruit pickers are the backpackers, and if you devastate that workforce that'll obviously cause those farmers to have to either pick it themselves or leave it, leave the fruit on the vine or leave the fruit in the orchard, and that will hurt once again. And, once again, it'll be the Australians who pay for it because we'll have to pay more for our fruit and veg, which no one wants to be doing at this time with where the cost of living crisis is. So all around it just makes no sense what the Labor Party are doing here, and I can't understand why they're singling backpackers out like this. As I've said, they’re bringing 1.5 million people in over the next five years and we've got serious issues about where they're going to be housed, and at the same time the people who come to Australia, work, holiday, spend money and then go are the ones they're picking on.

Levy: Just one last one on this. I mean, current visa holders can apply for a second and third visa to extend their stay if they commit to three months of specified work in the regions. So, there's an added incentive for them to stay. Will this change and disincentivize travellers from applying for their second year visa and in turn those regions miss out again?

Tehan: Absolutely it will. And not only that, there's the review that Labor has undertaken, which proposed limiting the backpacker visa to one year. Now if other countries are offering alternatives which enable you to stay for a second year and work, these backpackers will look to go elsewhere. And so Labor needs to come out right now and say we are not going to limit the backpacker visa to one year. They should just rule that out straight away. It's always – we’ve always offered that second or third year if you go and work in the regions, pick fruit, do those types of jobs. Now if they're going to limit it to one year, this will be absolutely devastating. And I hope the Prime Minister will come out today and just say we are not going to take up that recommendation of the review because it would really harm our farming industry and our tourism industry.

Levy: Well, you keep applying that pressure and we will, too, because this is ridiculous. We should be allowing people, tourists, to come to this country and also, if they're on a working visa to go out of the regions, pick the fruit, help out businesses and contribute to this wonderful country of ours. Instead, the Albanese Government sounds to me like it's penny-pinching in all of this. Dan, lovely to speak to you this morning. Thanks for coming on for a chat.

Tehan: Always a pleasure.

Media contact | Sandie Gustus 0408 564 232