Australia hopes to welcome more working backpackers

15 April 2005

Australia has moved to double the length of time backpackers can work in Australia. The move follows an attempt by New Zealand in February to snatch the lucrative market out from under Aussie noses by giving working holiday makers the chance to work for up to two years.

The new Australian law, which will come into effect on November 1, puts Australia and New Zealand on equal footing and in line with deals already in place in the United Kingdom.

Under the new laws backpackers holding a one-year working visa, who undertook three months of seasonal harvest work, will now be able to apply for a second visa.

Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) managing director Matt Hingerty said the new law will help ease the labor shortage and create additional tourism. However, he called the law far from perfect.

"Further improvements can be made to the scheme, particularly with regard to the restriction that prevents visa holders from working for more than three months in any one job," he said.