Peak body slams farm work plan

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

FARM­ERS have slammed a plan by the Mor­ri­son Gov­ern­ment to push the un­em­ployed into farm jobs, call­ing it a “shal­low at­tempt at solv­ing a deep prob­lem”.

In a bid to please farm­ers’ con­cerns about a lack of sea­sonal work­ers, the Coali­tion has un­veiled a plan to axe dole pay­ments for job­less Aus­tralians who refuse farm work.

Un­der the plan, farm­ers will be re­quired to re­port job va­can­cies to a provider, who will help them find lo­cal work­ers.

Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Naomi Sim­son said the pol­icy would do lit­tle to fix the short­age.

“Their plan to en­cour­age work­ers on to farms us­ing a car­rot and stick ap­proach might be well in­ten­tioned but shows a lack of un­der­stand­ing of the is­sue,” Ms Sim­son said.

“We want Aus­tralians to fill jobs on Aussie farms … but the re­al­ity is this lat­est at­tempt is un­likely to bear fruit.”

Ms Simp­son re­newed calls for the in­tro­duc­tion of an agri­cul­tural visa to boost for­eign work­ers in re­gional ar­eas.

The pro­posal has di­vided the Coali­tion with se­nior Cab­i­net mem­bers claim­ing it could jeop­ar­dise op­por­tu­ni­ties for Pa­cific work­ers who come to Aus­tralia un­der the Sea­sonal Worker Pro­gram and the Pa­cific Labour Scheme.

“If the Gov­ern­ment will not de­liver an agri­cul­tural visa in the short term, we need ded­i­cated changes to the ex­ist­ing schemes that will make a dif­fer­ence to farm­ers this sea­son,” Ms Sim­son said.

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