7 October 2020

Yesterday’s Federal Budget has revealed that the Morrison Coalition Government has no plan to address the labour shortage crisis facing horticulture this harvest, driving growers to bulldoze their crops.

Last night’s announcement to encourage people who relocate to harvest and regional areas to take up short-term agricultural work, under the existing Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job program, will only assist just a few thousand people.

Yet a report by Ernst & Young and commissioned by Hort Innovation released last week estimates the horticulture workforce shortage to be up to 26,000 workers.

This announcement cannot even hope to address the harvest labour crisis our farmers are grappling with right now. The Government has tried schemes like this in the past and they have not worked.

After seven years, the Liberal National Government is all spin and has no real plan to help Australian farmers attract the workers needed to harvest their crops.

The horticulture sector has faced labour workforce challenges for years. Growers are rightly becoming frustrated after hearing announcement after announcement from the current Liberal and National parties each year as they struggle to find workers to pick and pack their produce.

COVID has merely exacerbated labour shortfalls because of travel restrictions.

I don’t want to see growers leave their fruit and vegetables to rot or bulldoze it into the ground because the Liberal National Government doesn’t have a clear plan to address the dire worker shortage facing farmers.