The freshly re-elected Australian government has rewarded backpackers with an exciting new chance to stay in the country a little longer. Instead of completing months of laborious farm work for a quarter of the minimum wage, all you need to do to earn your fourth year in Australia is survive a three-day outback manhunt!
Scott Morrison’s government is yet to announce whether this will be a Wolf Creek-style chase through the Northern Territory with a crazed gunman on your tail, or a full-on Mad Max-esque car pursuit. Either way, it’s great news for anyone who isn’t ready to leave Bondi just yet.
As with the decision to grant backpackers a third year in exchange for a whopping six extra months of rural work, the Coalition government has consulted exactly zero visa holders on the feasibility of the program. Nor did politicians conduct any research as to whether extra years are just a band-aid for the terrible working conditions that lead to the agricultural labour shortage in the first place. However, this didn’t stop them then and it won’t stop them now.
In response to suggestions that hunting backpackers for sport is inhumane, the Federal Government responded curtly.
“Look, you didn’t have a problem with encouraging 18-year-old French girls to work on remote farms for creepy men before. And no one complains when at least one of these workers dies every year. So why is it suddenly a problem now? Bloody city snobs and their double-standards,” an Akubra-toting government spokesperson said.
“If backpackers don’t want to be a part of a twisted game of cat-and-mouse where the consequences of losing are a rotting away in a shallow grave 300 km from the nearest town, that’s their decision. But if they want to stay, they have to give something back to this country.”
Many backpackers are signing up for the program in spite of the controversy. One backpacker told The Tragic Traveller: “I work on a banana farm in Tully. I fear no death.” Another said: “We’re just as likely to die on the three-day manhunt as we are working on a farm. At least this way I won’t have to pick any more fucking avocados.”
The scheme is already picking up traction among crusty outback types and farm supervisors, who for some reason hate backpackers despite them providing basically free labour for the entire industry. And with the election over, the Coalition is already paying the favour back to right-wing rural voters.
So, if you want to party in St Kilda for another year, get your running shoes on! You’re only in Australia once.