Saturday, 19 September 2020
Seasonal workforce breakthrough a boost for farmers, food supply and economy

The Australian Government has developed a national plan to allow seasonal and Pacific workers to fill farming’s labour void and help support Australia’s Covid-19 recovery.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the government had taken “a sensible approach”.

“[It] ensures farmers can keep feeding the nation and supplying the world.

“I have written to state and territory agriculture ministers urging them to work with their colleagues and farmer sector to take advantage of the reopening of the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme.

“With appropriate state and territory plans and quarantine arrangements in place, seasonal and Pacific workers can safely support farmers facing critical workforce shortages.

“Agriculture is the engine of regional and rural Australia and is an essential industry, contributing $60 billion annually to our GDP.”

Engaging enough labour for harvesting has become an issue.

“Farmers can’t fill harvest jobs because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, with people prevented from moving across state borders, overseas workers and working holiday makers are in scarce supply.

“More than 40 percent of working holiday makers have departed Australia since the border closures, and while there are still around 8,000 Pacific and Timorese workers in Australia, this is nowhere near enough to meet the forthcoming harvest needs.

“We are allowing targeted recruitment of labour under the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Program.

“There will continue to be rigorous labour market testing to provide Australians with an opportunity to apply for these seasonal jobs first.”