22 January 2021

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud has blamed the states for labour shortages in agriculture.

He has repeatedly misled farmers by claiming that quarantine arrangements are the sole responsibility of the states, while failing to develop a feasible, nationally consistent plan to bring workers to Australia.

Quarantine arrangements have been a Commonwealth responsibility since 1901.

Minister Littleproud has been shirking his responsibilities for too long. Farmers are losing out and quality Australian fruit is rotting on the ground.

In December 2019, the Coalition Government promised an Agricultural Workforce Strategy.

Today, there is no strategy, and farmers still have a worker shortage.

Just this week Minister Littleproud claimed he has 25,000 pre-vetted Pacific seasonal labourers ready to work.

With $39 million in crop losses to date due to labour shortages, where are Minister Littleproud’s workers?

If David Littleproud is serious about resolving labour shortages in agriculture he would work with state and territory ministers to develop national solutions to a national problem.

David Littleproud should take his own advice, “the time for excuses is over.”

This letter to the editor was published in the Wangaratta Chronicle, the Pyrenees Advocate and the Ararat Advocate