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Working Holiday changes up steaks in Gulf country.

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Media Centre Working Holiday changes up steaks in Gulf Country 03 May 2006

Cattle stations in the Gulf Country will be able to keep overseas backpackers working as jackaroos and jillaroos for longer, which will reduce training costs and improve productivity, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Amanda Vanstone announced today.

From July, working holiday makers who spend three months employed in primary industries - even as a station hand readying cattle for transport - can apply for a second 12-month visa.

All overseas backpackers will also be allowed to work for the same employer for an extra three months. And they can study in Australia for four months instead of the current three months.

"These changes mean a win-win situation for employers and working holiday makers and will help boost the economy around Burketown - particularly in the livestock industry, which is a big employer of working holiday makers," the Minister said.

"Overseas backpackers often have highly sought-after skills and can make a positive long-term contribution to the economy. They're also a great means to buoy numbers for seasonal work as farmhands.

"The expansion of the scheme follows successful changes to the working holiday maker visa in November 2005, which enabled people who spent three months doing seasonal harvest work in regional Australia to become eligible for a second visa.

"More than 1500 backpackers applied between November and January to stay an extra year in Australia ."

Senator Vanstone said both employers and working holiday makers would benefit from the rule change allowing backpackers to spend longer in the one job.

"It will enable them to retain trained staff for longer and allow working holiday makers to apply for jobs that require a stay of longer than three months," the Minister added.

The Working Holiday Maker scheme has grown from fewer than 50 000 people a year in the mid-1990s to more than 104 000 in 2004-05.

Minister's media contact: 0417 445 886