Push for pick­ers bears fruit

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

TAS­MA­NIAN fruit grow­ers are con­fi­dent they will have enough back­pack­ers for the up­com­ing har­vest sea­son de­spite last year’s tax de­ba­cle.

Fruit Grow­ers Tas­ma­nia busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager Phil Pyke said grow­ers had been spared fall­out from the tax farce that threat­ened to cull num­bers of back­pack­ers look­ing to work pick­ing fruit.

From Jan­uary 1 the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a tax rate of 15 per cent on those on work­ing hol­i­day visas.

Farm­ers feared the orig­i­nal pro­posed tax rate of 32.5 per cent would de­ter trav­ellers from com­ing to Australia.

The grower body says fears have been put to rest. the

“It’s not af­fect­ing num­bers at this stage, it ap­pears our lo­cal grow­ers are quite OK for num­bers,” Mr Pyke said.

“It’s es­ti­mated about 6,500 back­pack­ers are re­quired dur­ing har­vest sea­son.”

Mr Pyke said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s sea­sonal worker in­cen­tive trial had strug­gled to at­tract peo­ple, with only 30 tak­ing part na­tion­ally. Tas­ma­nia has the high­est par­tic­i­pa­tion rate with eight peo­ple in the trial.

The two-year trial al­lows peo­ple re­ceiv­ing New­start or Youth Al­lowance to earn up to $5000 do­ing har­vest work with­out the in­come af­fect­ing their Cen­tre­link pay­ments.

Re­cip­i­ents can also get up to $300 in al­lowances for liv­ing away from home and travel.

While se­cur­ing Aus­tralian work­ers is prov­ing dif­fi­cult, the sea­sonal worker pro­gram for Pa­cific Is­lan­ders is at­tract­ing work­ers form Van­u­atu and East Ti­mor to Tas­ma­nia.

The fed­eral pro­gram brings Pa­cific Is­lan­ders to Australia on spe­cial tem­po­rary visas.

“It’s the best form of for­eign aid and can help with sea­sonal labour needs,” Mr Pyke said.

Last year Mr Pyke led a del­e­ga­tion from Van­u­atu in Tas­ma­nia in­ves­ti­gat­ing work op­por­tu­ni­ties.

He said said the state a;lso had its own on­line project for agri­cul­tural jobs, which connects lo­cals, humanitarian en­trants and in­ter­na­tional work­ers to job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Visit www.tasagjobs.com.au for more de­tails.

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