Submission regarding revisions to the PALM scheme rules (Deed and Guidelines)

By Stephen Howes

February 2022

Prospects for the Pacific labour schemes, formerly SWP (Seasonal Worker Programme) and PLS (Pacific Labour Scheme), now combined into PALM (Pacific Australia Labour Mobility), are uncertain. Australia’s re-opening of international borders, the continued circulation of the virus, the new Australian (Asian) Agriculture visa, and the continuation of closed borders in the Pacific all pose significant risks, and threaten PALM’s attractiveness.

In this context the revision of PALM rules via the creation of new Guidelines and the new Deed of Agreement (DoA) to take the place of the separate PLS and SWP ones is extremely important and should not be rushed. This submission makes six recommendations:

  1. The new PALM Deed and Guidelines and the Australian Agriculture Visa Deed and Guidelines should be finalised at the same time.
  2. No change should be implemented that makes PALM more expensive to employers
  3. The portability reforms are encouraging but require more clarity
  4. The requirement that workers have functional English should be dropped
  5. There are missed opportunities to deregulate the program
  6. The revisions are also a missed opportunity to promote equity and diversity

Howes, S. 2022, Submission regarding revisions to the PALM scheme rules (Deed and Guidelines), Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra.

Karen Downing

Karen Downing is Research Communications Coordinator at the Development Policy Centre.