Producers confident in numbers for full season
THE approaching picking season in the North Burnett will give the best indication yet around the impact of the newly introduced backpacker tax of 15 per cent.
North Burnett citrus producer Emma Robinson hires a large number of backpackers every year and remains optimistic for the North Burnett.
“A lot of other areas don’t have the reputation that the North Burnett does for treating backpackers well,” Ms Robinson said.
“I know that I pay people well and treat them fairly, they tend to be friends of people I have had before and they call up to book a place.”
She said as long as a producer had a reputation for fair treatment they were not likely to see a drop in backpackers numbers.
“It’s going to adversely affect those who don’t treat them right first,” Ms Robinson said.
“When there are too many backpackers for the amount of jobs you get all the places filled easily.
“But when numbers are reduced only the decent jobs are filled up first and then the people who don’t pay properly won’t get them in for the rest.”
Chris Benham is another Gayndah producer, owning and operating Benyenda Citrus, and echoes Ms Robinson’s sentiments about the fair treatment of backpackers.
“Gayndah does treat them well, my philosophy has always been we need them as much as they need the jobs,” Mrs Benham said.
“Unfortunately we are having difficulty getting them at this time which means we can’t get the fruit off.” Mrs Benham said that while they have had backpackers come in the heat has caused them to leave just as quick.
“We are getting the European backpackers who are good workers but the heat is getting to them a bit, I think that’s the problem at this stage,” she said.
“Usually at this time of year we would take a break for a couple of days a week until the heat faded, but we just haven’t got a break at all from it this year.”
BACKPACKER SEASON: North Burnett producers are getting ready for the peak picking season.