ASEAN snubs Australia's agri-workers visa programme

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Delays continue to hound the Australian government's agriculture visa programme, being offered to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The agriculture visa is open for citizens from Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, the Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia, and aims to address the country's shortage of workers.

But none of the countries has agreed to participate so far.

Concerns about citizens' welfare seem to be holding back nations, following reports of agricultural migrant workers in Australia receiving as little as AUD100 a week (USD73) in return for their work. There are also reports of abuse or threats against these workers.

Australian farmers may see widened post-harvest losses if the situation cannot be resolved. Some farmers reported leaving behind 40% to 50% of their harvest to rot due to the lack of workers during Covid-affected seasons in 2020 and 2021.

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