INTO RURAL 21 GATTONSTAR.COM.AU WEDNESDAY JUNE 24 2020 COLUMN Uncertainty in the forecast Supply of labour vital for horticulture farmers Growcom welcomes the Prime Minister’s plan and calls for a collaborative review of industrial relations that properly addresses farmers’ concerns. DAVID THOMSON poking through. The Federal Government appears to have an appetite for legislating our way around the decision from the Federal Court. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also recently outlined his plan to promote a strong recovery from coronavirus, including much-needed reform of Australia’s skills and industrial relations system. And the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy, currently under development, is another opportunity to reset. A chance to properly address the agriculture sector’s need to build a skilled workforce that equips us for the future. The committee consulting on the strategy, led by John Azarias, has brought a clean slate to their process. Those engaged to date have come away enthused that a holistic approach to solving our labour challenges is being taken. Too often these reviews have been too narrow in scope and piecemeal in the solutions proposed. Growcom welcomes the Prime Minister’s plan and calls for a collaborative review of industrial Growcom CEO Picture: ZOE PHILLIPS ECONOMISTS and meteorologists have a lot in common. Neither really knows what’s going to happen in the future, and yet their jobs depend on it. And we depend on them too, now more than ever. Right now we’re relying on economists to steer us through COVID-19 and the uncertainties it has created with the security of our labour supply. Some important work is under way at state and federal levels modelling the impact of the rest of the economy recovering and changes in international travel. When the time comes, we understand our options and have the policy levers ready to pull. Added to the uncertainty has been the recent decision by the Federal Court that wasn’t widely predicted. The Court in Rossato v Workpac confirmed that an employee engaged as a casual can be considered a permanent employee, and entitled to leave payments retrospectively. But there are rays of sunshine relations that properly addresses farmers’ concerns. We need a system that gives workers the entitlements they deserve, while making it clear and easy for employers to award these entitlements. We need a system that is transparent, practical and stands up to scrutiny. We need the skills, experience and ingenuity in our industry so we can continue to grow, employ more Australians, and generate wealth in local communities. Growers wanting to contribute ideas to the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy can do so before August 3, 2020, by visiting https://have yoursay.agriculture.gov.au/ national-agricultural-workforce-strategy. Thank you to my valued clients for your support during my time working on the Gatton Star’s rural publications. We operate a state of the art food processing facility in the Brisbane Valley, manufacturing a variety of high quality beef products. Your friendship, support & well wishes are very much appreciated. I wish you all bumper crops, fat livestock & full dams for the future. You might even recognise us as Australian Food Corporation, or the Beef Patty Plant at Coominya. V1 - TGSE01Z01MA
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