Grow­ers will not be left in limbo

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Kate Dar­vall

CHANGES in the re­cent bud­get have meant even tighter rules for back­pack­ers and some are wor­ried it might put strain on the in­dus­try, but one Gayn­dah grower dis­agrees.

The tax-free thresh­old for back­pack­ers was scrapped and some grow­ers are wor­ried it might make it harder to find pick­ers.

One in­dus­try mem­ber thinks the change will have no ef­fect.

Gayn­dah Fruit Grow­ers’ sec­re­tary Judy Shep­herd said it came down to what mo­ti­vated back­pack­ers to work.

“Gen­er­ally they’re work­ing out here be­cause they want a sec­ond year visa,” Mrs Shep­herd said.

“So they’d do it re­gard­less of the money.”

Although she said back­pack­ers were paid well. Mrs Shep­herd said this was not the pri­mary rea­son for­eign­ers worked as pick­ers.

“They don’t want to be do­ing it for no pay, but I don’t think they’re

Judy Shep­herd

mo­ti­vated by that (the money).”

Even with the changes, Mrs Shep­herd said back­packer wages were high in the hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try.

“In com­par­i­son our wages are any­thing up to five or six times higher than in other coun­tries,” she said.

“They get paid well.”

She said the in­dus­try would not be left in limbo due to the changes be­cause it held a spe­cial niche in the mar­ket. “If they want to stay in the coun­try for longer, they must work in a lo­cal­ity,” she said.

They don’t want to be do­ing it for no pay, but I don’t think they’re mo­ti­vated by that (the money).

She said the guide­lines reg­u­lat­ing where back­pack­ers could work were “quite strict”.

“They can’t work in a cof­fee shop at Noosa or even come to Gayn­dah and work at the pub,” she said.

“I don’t think they (changes in the bud­get) will have a ma­jor ef­fect to be hon­est.”

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