The Federal Government is working on solutions to address the chronic labour shortage in the horticulture for jobs such fruit picking, planting and packing.
Member for Longman Terry Young held an Agriculture forum on April 16 with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud which was dominated by discussion on how to solve the labour shortage that is crippling parts of the industry.
“I’ve visited farms in my electorate of Longman and heard from growers who say they simply cannot get enough people to fill these jobs,” Mr Young said.
“My view is that we’ve got unemployed people here in Australia, why don’t we put Aussies in there?
“But the reality is that they just don’t want to do these jobs.”
Mr Young said he attended a Pacific Labour Scheme meeting earlier in the year and learned there were 25,000 people ready to come over from Pacific nations to work.
“We understand and agree that keeping people safe must be the first priority and for our government, this will always be the case,” he said.
“But I fail to see how allowing workers in from countries who haven’t had a COVID 19 case for almost a year is not keeping people safe.
“What about the mental health of farmers who can’t get workers and may go broke? Common sense must prevail.”
Gavin Sturr from Pinata Farms told the forum that he is operating on less than 50 per cent of his usual staff numbers.
“In my view the seasonal worker program is the only answer in the short-medium term,” Mr Stuff said.
“We need 20,000 Pacific Islanders here tomorrow, but this is not happening because of State quarantines.”
Mr Sturr said the States’ solution of on-farm quarantine was not realistic.
“Businesses will do it if we have to but it’s not going to get 20,000 people on the ground in the next couple of months,” he said.
Minister Littleproud said the Morrison Government pushed for a national strategy to deal with the issue, but three states wouldn’t sign up: Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.
“They said they’re not interested,” Mr Littleproud said.
“States could solve the issue of labour shortages themselves, by letting in pre-vetted visa-ready workers from 10 Pacific Island nations.
“The Federal Government has rubber stamped up to 26,000 workers, but it is the responsibility of the States to now allow them in.”
"The states are the ones that imposed these caps on people that come in from overseas, and they are the ones that wanted to own that quarantine responsibility.
"The states must work with industry to bring people in and make sure they have the necessary quarantine plans in place.”
If you are interested in horticulture work, contact Harvest Trail Caboolture on 5294 7000.