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The Australian government has put its proposed agriculture visa on ice, sending ripples of relief through the Pacific region.
The Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was due to unveil the new scheme today.
But Pacific leaders and labour analysts warned that a new liberalised regime could spell disaster for the Seasonal Workers Program, which brings thousands of people from Pacific nations into Australia to work on farms.
And the Government seems to have listened, with the Assistant Minister for the Pacific Anne Ruston making it clear the Government will go back to the drawing board.
“The devil was always in the detail. So I will be very keen to be working closely with Minister Littleproud and the Foreign Minister Marise Payne to make sure that any visas put out there, recognise the importance of existing visas and build on those visas,” Ruston told Pacific Beat.
Michael Fryszer from the Labour Hire firm Connect, who has championed the Seasonal Workers Program, says he's relieved by the decision.
“It is a win-win for all and to see anything that would threaten it [the Pacific Seasonal Worker Program] just as it is firing on all cylinders, would be a tragedy," he said.
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