28 February 2012

Senior politician lobbies for Australian visa for backpackers

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Western Australia's Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Dr Kim Hames is lobbing the Australian government in an effort to have Australian visa restrictions for backpackers relaxed. Dr Hames claims this will relieve some of the demand for jobs in the hospitality and tourism industries.

Australia visa

Western Australia's Deputy Premier believes that the solution to the staffing shortage could be backpackers.

Dr Hames is urging the federal government to double the length of the working holiday visa programme to two years as well as remove the restriction which limits backpackers to a maximum of six months spend working in each position.

Dr Hames' efforts come after a report published by the Western Australia Tourism Council said that the state is suffering from a lack of staff in the tourism industry. Chief executive of the council Evan Hall said it was "absolutely ridiculous" that companies in other industries, particularly the mining industry, are permitted to recruit foreign staff when the tourism industry isn't.

Dr Hames said he had contacted Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to request the change.

"Specifically the requirement for people who are backpackers to only be able to stay a year and only to be able to do six months in a particular job," said Dr Hames.

"We'd like to see both of those double, because they're the people are out there, in our regions, taking on the jobs that other people don't want, particularly in our tourism and hospitality industry."

The tourism industry has a reported 36,000 job vacancies across Australia, a figure predicted to more double within five years. Dr Hames claims that by relaxing Australian visa restrictions, the job gap would lessen and the tourism industry could continue to grow.

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Bradley Woods said many companies were having increasing difficulty in attracting and finding staff.

"The mining boom is doing very well, but it's also drawing staff out of hospitality, accommodation and other tourism businesses.

"The Commonwealth laws make it extremely hard for us to get staff. When it's hard to find staff, it's hard to get good service; it's hard to equip hotels, resorts and many other businesses with the right number of staff.

"We need people who have the capacity and experience to provide good customer services, good hospitality services, and understand the industry."


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