Malaysia not adopting Australia's farm labour visa scheme, Dewan Negara told

Malaysia not adopting Australia's farm labour visa scheme, Dewan Negara told
-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 11): Malaysia has decided not to adopt Australia's Farm Labour Visa Scheme as it is geared towards offering permanent residency, the Dewan Negara was told on Monday.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Awang Hashim said Malaysia had been informed of the introduction of the scheme by Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Dr Justin Lee when he met Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan on Sept 7.

"The government introduced the Malaysianisation programme to encourage the recruitment of local labour and reduce dependence on foreign labour," he said during the question-and-answer (Q&A) session.

He was replying to a question from Senator Nuridah Mohd Salleh who wanted to know the extent of discussions between Malaysia and Australia on the scheme.

Awang said through the Malaysianisation programme, employees are eligible to receive an additional incentive of RM500 or 20% of their monthly salary.

“For example, if the salary offer is RM1,500, the employee will be given an incentive of RM500, making the total gross salary RM2,000. The eligibility limit for this incentive has been set for the provision of employee salaries at a minimum level of RM1,500 for employers who participate in this programme, ”he said.

Awang said Australia introduced the scheme to address the shortage of workers in the agriculture and plantation sector, which had received less response from local workers, and it is expected to provide employment opportunities for migrant workers to work for three years in the sector in Australia.

“Australia and Malaysia face the same problem, namely a lack of manpower in the plantation sector in their respective countries as well as high dependence on foreign labour in the sector.

"The scenario in Australia and Malaysia is quite similar where the plantation sector which mainly involves 3D (dangerous, dirty and difficult) work causes many local workers to be not interested in venturing into the sector," he said.

Meanwhile, at a press conference afterwards, Awang reminded employers not to take advantage and abuse the programme to lower employees' salaries and expect the government to bear the rest.

He said the purpose of the programme is to attract local workers to work in sectors that are increasingly filled with foreign workers.

"We feel that no party should take the opportunity to exploit our situation with the country facing the Covid-19 pandemic.

"If this happens, we ask employees to lodge a complaint on the Working For Workers portal and we will take action against any party taking advantage of the programme," he said.

According to Awang, as of Oct 1, a total of 1.7 million vacancies had been advertised, with 270,358 positions in the active category to match jobseekers.

He said of the total, 223,870 vacancies were successfully filled, while 46,488 active vacancies are still open for matching purposes.

He also stressed that the incentive eligibility limit set with a minimum wage level of RM1,500 for employers who participate in the programme is not related to the setting of the minimum wage rate of RM1,200 per month through the Minimum Wage Order 2020, which is still in force.

For more Parliament stories, click here.