ScoMo announces new plan to help stock supermarket shelves
Young people looking to study in Australia will have their visa fees waived under a new plan to boost the nation’s workforce.
The initiative, set to cost the budget bottom line approximately $55 million, could see up 150,000 students and 23,500 backpackers pick up jobs in areas experiencing critical workforce shortages.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s message was clear, “come on down” and help alleviate the pressures caused by the Omicron variant.
“We also want them to come here and be able to be filling some of these critical workforce shortages, particularly those who are working and being trained in healthcare, aged care, those types of sectors, that will be incredibly helpful,” he told reporters in Canberra.
He added he would be encouraging states to remove remaining restrictions on arrivals.
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“I‘d be encouraging them to look at those rules to make sure they can get those critical workers in,” Mr Morrison said.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Andrew McKellar welcomed the changes, but insisted the government must also reconsider the ban on tourists and business travellers.
Tourism Australia will be given $3 million to fund a marketing campaign overseas to encourage students and backpackers to come to Australia.
Mr Morrison’s announcement came the same day the US added Australia to its Level 4 advisory list.
“Avoid travel to Australia. If you must travel to Australia, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” the CDC‘s Australian travel warning said.
“Because of the current situation in Australia, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covd-19 variants.”
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison called on the states to remove requirements for workers to undertake daily rapid antigen tests before working on a site.
He said the medical advice was clear, and the resources should be redirected towards industries that need it most such as aged care, health and meat processing.
“It is not the medical advice for rapid antigen testing to be a requirement for a safe workplace broadly across the Australian economy,” the Prime Minister said.
“Seeking to impose that would not only frustrate the supplies, but it would impose further burdens on our employers at a time when we’re seeking to ensure that our economy can push through.”
Mr Morrison acknowledged the summer had been tough for many, but defended his government’s response to the Omicron strain.
“We knew it was contagious, but we didn’t quite know then just how severe it could be,” he conceded.
“You have seen all of these in all of these countries all around the world. That is what Omicron has brought.
“But that is of no comfort to Australians who had a frustrating and difficult and highly concerning summer and that is something that we must continue to work together to push through.”
“Omicron changed everything and particularly changed it for Australia, because this is the first time we’ve seen this pandemic, the rapid escalation in cases like we’ve seen in other countries in early parts of the pandemic,” he said.
Originally published as ScoMo announces new plan to help stock supermarket shelves
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