The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Walsh: Action needed now
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.