Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes confirmed today the Andrews Labor Government has failed to make progress to fix the seasonal worker shortage facing Victoria’s horticulture sector.
Industry has spent months desperately seeking ways to secure more workers after the coronavirus pandemic shut Australia’s borders and resulted in a mass exodus of working holiday makers.
Ms Symes had no answers for farmers when asked in State Parliament today to detail the measures the Andrews Government will put in place to get workers on farm.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said industry couldn’t afford to wait any longer for a solution.
“Harvest is fast approaching but the Andrews Labor Government is still full of hot air and no solutions,” Mr Walsh said.
“If farmers can’t get enough seasonal workers, fruit won’t make it off the trees and will be left to rot, while consumers will pay for it at the supermarket checkout at Christmas.
“We’re already hearing stories out of north Queensland of growers forced to plough tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of produce into the ground because they can’t get the workforce they need.
“Victorian growers will also be forced to make painful decisions if the Minister fails in her responsibility to put a framework in place that will get workers into Victoria and on farm in time for harvest.”
Other states have already taken up the offer of support from the Commonwealth to get workers into the country and onto farms.
“Victoria is sitting on its hands while other states – like the Northern Territory – are trialling programs that have already brought in hundreds of workers,” Mr Walsh said.
“Failing to find a solution to this crisis isn’t an option.”