Australian Immigration urged to lift age restrictions on Working Holiday Visas

April 11, 2008

A request has been launched to Australian Immigration to remove the age restrictions currently set for Working Holiday Visas.

Queensland Tourism Minister Desley Boyle, who has sent the letter carrying the request to Immigration, believes that baby boomers from all over the world could be the answer to Queensland’s major skills crisis.

Currently, the Australian Working Holiday Visa is available to 18- to 30-year olds and valid for a twelve-month period.

But Ms Boyle explained to Immigration Minister Chris Evans that overseas workers aged from 30 onwards were, in fact, Australia's great untapped resource.

“Business and industry in Queensland is constrained in terms of its growth by a lack of skilled labour,” she said.

“Why should we allow Working Holiday Visas for 18- to 30-year-olds only? It may be some of us who are older, baby boomers, may well like that opportunity.”

She explained that although Queensland's low unemployment rate of 3.6% has its positive points, it is restricting business growth, and is hoping that immigration will solve that.

“This is a bigger issue for Queensland, I suspect, (because) Queensland is booming more than other states,” she stressed.

Currently, this Australian state is in dire need for workers in the hospitality industry, as well as in the health sector and other skilled trades.

Ms Boyle said she had not yet spoken to other states about supporting the measure, but added that Western Australia and regional areas of New South Wales also had their own skills shortage crises.

She said before she takes the matter further, she would first await responses to the proposal from business.

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