Government visa announcement boosts breeding sector

The Federal Government’s announcement regarding enhanced access to ‘Horse Breeder’ visas today is warmly welcomed by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA).

The decision follows a lobbying campaign led by TBA to put the ‘Horse Breeder’ occupation category on the medium and long term strategic skills list (MTSSL) for the purposes of 457 visas.

By putting ‘Horse Breeder’ on the medium and long-term list, visa holders can work in Australia for up to four years and also have a path to permanent residency – rather than being required to leave the country after just two years under existing arrangements.

“Access to skilled staff is one of the biggest issues in the Australian Thoroughbred breeding industry and that is why TBA has been closely engaged with the government and Members of Parliament to bring about this key decision,” TBA CEO Tom Reilly said.

“The number of staff recruited from overseas to fill these visa positions has been relatively small, but the value of these skilled and experienced staff is enormous.

“They fill key roles such as stallion managers, yearling managers and foal managers and are responsible for horses worth many millions of dollars. In addition, these internationally experienced visa holders undertake important mentoring roles of local staff.”

Emphasising the importance of access to skilled staff, in a survey of Australian breeders undertaken by TBA last year, 95% of breeders stated that the supply of competent staff is a critical issue in the Australian breeding industry. Some 85% of breeders also indicated that, compared to 10 years ago, it is much harder to find competent staff.

“TBA would like to thank Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, their advisers and other Members of Parliament who greatly assisted our industry on this issue.”

Mr Reilly said TBA undertook significant work, including with other industry stakeholders, to see this decision come to fruition.

“Our strong case was made in a detailed submission to the Federal Government late last year explaining how our industry could be negatively affected without access to long-term visa arrangements.” Mr Reilly said.

TBA is also mindful of opening up opportunities for local staff. At the end of last year Skills Impact Australia signed off on a new Certificate III in horse breeding, following input from TBA.

This new course will enable TAFEs to offer apprenticeship level programs in breeding which have not been available in some years.

“It is vital industry and training institutions now work closely together to ensure the new Certificiate III course is a success with strong enrolments,” said Mr Reilly.

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