· The Government does not support regularising the status of unlawful non-citizens who have breached work-related visa conditions or overstayed their visa, as this would undermine the integrity of Australia’s visa programs.
· Broad regularisation of the status of unlawful non-citizens may perversely encourage non-compliance with migration law.
· Despite the closure of the Australian border, pull factors encouraging illegal immigration are still relevant.
· The use of illegal workers undermines Australia’s visa programs. By using illegal workers, employers circumvent the requirements of these visa programs and Australian workplace law, including the provision of fair wages and safe work practices.
· Regularising the status of existing AgriFood illegal migrant workers is unlikely to attract new workers to the industry, with research indicating it may provide an incentive for existing workers to move to metropolitan areas where previously they could not work due to their unlawful status or breaches of their visa conditions.
· The Government is committed to ensuring employers, labour hire intermediaries and sponsors comply with Australian law, resulting in a fair and safe experience for migrant workers.
· In response to COVID-19, the Government has implemented arrangements to allow critical workers in the agriculture sector to extend their stay in Australia, including:
o the relaxation of the 40 hours per fortnight work limitation for student visa holders who undertake work in the agricultural sector;
o the introduction of the Temporary Activity (COVID-19 Pandemic Event) visa (subclass 408) to support critical sectors including agriculture;
o extended stay for visa holders under the Working Holiday Maker Program, the Pacific Labour Scheme and the Seasonal Worker Program if working in the agriculture sector; and
o the inclusion of agriculture workers on a critical skills list of those who can be considered for exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions.
· As at 27 January 2021, across the Student, Temporary Graduate, Working Holiday, Pacific Labour and Safe Haven Enterprise Visa categories, there were 602,823 temporary visa holders in Australia eligible to work in agriculture.