Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack has promised to deliver a new agriculture visa within three months.
It comes after the Australian government agreed to scrap a requirement for British backpackers to pick fruit before extending their working holidays, under an in-principle free trade agreement with the UK.
Mr McCormack promised the subsequent labour shortage would be filled by a dedicated agriculture visa made available to the United Kingdom and 10 countries across South East Asia.
The Nationals leader has committed to delivering the new visa by the end of September.
“That could involve any number of people,” Mr McCormack told Nine on Wednesday.
“Those deals will be worked through and put in place.”
BREAKING: The Federal Government's new Agricultural Visa will be extended to ASEAN countries first. Agriculture Minister @D_LittleproudMP tells @RNBreakfast. Story soon via @SBSNews pic.twitter.com/TtyzQbnjYH
— Anna Henderson (@annajhenderson) June 15, 2021
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the decision to scrap the working holiday visa requirement on UK citizens would reduce the seasonal workforce by 10,000 people.
He said the deal struck by the Nationals ensures they will be replaced, with the creation of the new Agricultural Visa category.
It would be offered to citizens from 10 ASEAN nations – Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson sealed their in-principle trade agreement in London this week, but the final version of the deal still needs to be backed in parliament.
Mr Littleproud said he was confident the transition to the new deal, to take place over a five-year period, will deliver an even bigger workforce than was previously available under the visa arrangements.
The visa requirements on British holiday-makers were a sticking point in the free trade negotiations, and Australians travelling to the UK do not have the same obligations to go to regional areas working in areas like agriculture to remain there beyond a single year.