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Australia overhauls Pacific work schemes

Australia will ramp up efforts to bring Pacific and East Timorese workers to regional areas through an overhaul of two temporary migration schemes.

The Morrison government is aiming to bring in an extra 12,500 agriculture, accommodation, hospitality and aged care workers by March next year.

The Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme will now include accommodation businesses in all parts of rural and regional Australia.

Employers with good records will have SWP recruitment caps doubled, while the age limit of 45 will be scrapped across both programs.

Workers will be allowed to complete training certificates while in Australia.

Labour market testing will now be valid for 12 months instead of six and postcode restrictions on some workers scrapped.

Businesses will be able to access both programs through a single application on a new website.

Pacific workers who have spent three years in Australia will be able to apply for another 12-month stay while coronavirus travel restrictions are in place.

More than 10,600 Pacific and Timorese workers have arrived in Australia since the two schemes resumed last month.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Employment Minister Stuart Robert and Pacific Minister Zed Seselja announced the changes on Tuesday.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific and Timorese workers have been the lifeblood of many regional businesses, ensuring meat could be processed and crops could be harvested,” he said.

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