Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a call for international students and working holidaymakers to “come on down” to Australia as the nation grapples with workforce shortages (source).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the changes on Wednesday to help the nation ease workforce shortages caused by the spread of the Omicron variant.
“What we’ll be doing is we will be rebating the visa application fees from all those who arrive today,” he told reporters in Canberra.
International students will have the fees waived for eight weeks from Wednesday, while the changes will be in place for 12 weeks for working holidaymakers.
Mr Morrison called on the visa holders to consider coming to Australia as soon as possible.
“My message to them is come on down,” he said.
“We want you to come to Australia and enjoy a holiday here in Australia – move all the way around the country and, at the same time, join our workforce.”
The rapid rise of COVID-19 infections has resulted in thousands of workers being forced off work due to the virus or being required to self-isolate as a close contact.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he hoped changes to the application fees would make a “big difference” in addressing ongoing workforce shortages.
He said an estimated 175,000 students and working holidaymakers were being called on to come to the country.
“We are putting out the welcome mat,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters.
The federal government last week announced a 40-hour per fortnight working cap would be removed for foreign students in sectors affected by workforce shortages.
Mr Morrison on Wednesday also announced $3 million would go to Tourism Australia to support a marketing program targeting backpackers and students.