Pro­duc­ers con­fi­dent in num­bers for full sea­son

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE -

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.”

PHOTO: MIKE KNOTT

BACK­PACKER SEA­SON: North Bur­nett pro­duc­ers are get­ting ready for the peak pick­ing sea­son.

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