Tourism industry calls for national rollout of working holiday visa extensions

The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) is calling on the Federal Government to expand the Working Holiday Maker Visa extensions in northern Australia to the rest of the country.

From tomorrow (21 November), both Working Holiday (Subclass 417) and Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders who undertake work in northern Australia will be able to apply to work for a single employer for up to 12 months, compared to the usual six month restriction currently imposed.

“This is a common sense reform to working holiday visas and it shouldn’t stop at some arbitrary invisible line in northern Australia – if it’s good enough to implement in the Top End its good enough to be rolled out across the entire country,” said Margy Osmond, TTF CEO.

“Six months just isn’t long enough with one employer when staff training can take up to three months – three months training for three months work is just ludicrous. And when the costs of recruiting are added on top, this can become an unnecessarily expensive and burdensome exercise for tourism operators.

“The tourism industry, according to the government’s own report, is currently facing a 38,000 worker shortage. With this shortage expected to increase fourfold to 123,000 workers by 2020, visa reform is needed to help plug the shortfall. Working holiday makers are a vital source of labour for the tourism industry, especially in regional and remote communities across Australia.

“This is also why TTF is calling on the government to ensure the second 12-month visa extension offered to Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders if they work for three months in tourism in the north, is rolled out across Australia.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of many regional and remote destinations, and this extension would provide a great shot in the arm for businesses and communities that need it the most.”

Ms Osmond said last year the Federal Government granted 226,812 visas and an enhanced visa system would be a much-needed boon for the tourism industry.

“These changes would also make the Working Holiday Maker Visa program more attractive and go some way in offsetting the kick in the guts the industry was given in the last Federal budget with the removal of the tax-free threshold for these workers.

“The expansion nationally of these simple changes would be a welcome reform for the industry and give tourism operators a helping hand to tackle the challenge of securing workers across Australia.”