Australian meat exporter frustrated by inability to employ skilled migrants

A western Queensland meat exporter says the Australian industry is being "hamstrung" by an inability to employ skilled migrants in the sector.

Western Exporters at Charleville sells goat meat to more than 30 nations, but says it is still unable to hire migrants to work at its facility.

Managing director Neil Duncan says beef abattoirs are also feeling the pinch, and the Department of Immigration is not helping.

"We've been waiting over seven months now for applications to be finalized," he said.

"That goes right through the meat industry and I think that's pretty general throughout Australia, that Australian businesses are now being hamstrung because we can't get the workers to do the work.

"It's not a matter of unemployment, we've just outgrown ourselves as a nation."

The Department of Immigration says it is currently finalizing a labor agreement with the meat industry to address the future recruitment of overseas workers.

It says it is arranging meetings with State Governments to consult on the matter.

During this year there have been a number of complaints by various business interests that Australian immigration is too restrictive, given the current economic boom of the country. Debate has taken place over whether or not to allow a so-called "semi-skilled" class of immigrant workers into the country to take jobs such as driving trucks, for exanple.

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