The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Walsh: Action needed now

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Victorian Opposition agricultur­al spokesman Peter Walsh has accused the State Government of failing to solve a ‘desperate’ shortage of workers for Victorian farms and agricultur­e businesses.

Mr Walsh said tens of thousands of vacancies that needed filling in Victoria’s horticultu­re industry represente­d ‘the tip of the iceberg’ as the closure of internatio­nal borders – and Victoria’s unwillingn­ess to prioritise farm workers’ entry to the state – continued to bite.

He said industry experts were pointing out that without action, a shortage of harvest contractor­s and bulk handlers, shearers and workers in the meat-processing industry would derail a bumper year for Victorian agricultur­e.

“The government must prioritise farm workers for entry into the state,” Mr Walsh said.

“With the current limit for seasonal workers expected to be met by October – and a forecast shortage of up to 24,000 workers in the horticultu­re industry – Labor’s Agricultur­e Minister can’t afford to delay.”

Mr Walsh said other measures, such as rapid testing for COVID-19 and better vaccinatio­n rates, could be a game-changer in providing certainty for the food-supply chain.

“The time is now for the government to roll out rapid testing. It’s a way to keep Victorians safe. It’s a way to help reopen this state and keep us open,” he said.

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