MEMBER for Barker Tony Pasin has backed the Federal Government’s controversial plan to push job seekers into farm work.
Job seekers will risk losing their Centrelink payments for a month if they refuse to accept work on farms under the new initiative.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement while visiting Barker, saying the scheme would get people off welfare and into work, as well as tackling farm labour shortages in the electorate.
“Whether it’s here picking the tomatoes, or whether it’s picking the strawberries up on the Sunshine Coast, or it’s picking apples or pears or mangoes up in the Northern Territory, you need the labour to get that done,” Mr Morrison said.
“If you do not, the investments that are poured in can go to rot.
“We want Australians to go and do those jobs and have access to those jobs.
“The farmers need you to do the work and the Australian economy needs you to do it as well.”
Mr Pasin said while many Australian farmers were doing it tough because of the drought, others in Barker were gearing up for a strong harvest.
Mr Pasin said the government was further supporting farmers by driving policies to get more people into jobs.
“We want to help job seekers find a great local job and help farmers find great workers,” he said.
“If you want a go, you’ll get a go.
“Australian taxpayers expect genuine job seekers to be looking for work.”
Mr Pasin called on local farmers to report their workforce needs as part of a new initiative to ensure positions were matched with eligible Australian job seekers.
The government will use information gathered through the National Harvest Labour Information Service to better understand Australia’s seasonal labour shortages and inform potential adjustments to visa arrangements in the
The National Farmers’ Federation said the announcement was a “shallow attempt at solving a deep problem”, saying migrant workers were needed to meet the sector’s needs.
In a statement, the federation said the short-term and seasonal nature of agricultural tasks often meant the arrangements were not attractive to local workers.
AUSVEG chief executive James Whiteside also hit out at the scheme.
“Farmers deserve better than this and should be entitled to access a workforce that wants to work on their farms,” he said.
“Farming businesses are the backbone of many of our regional communities – if they are forced to rely on workers who do not want to be on farms they will not be productive and could leave these businesses and their communities vulnerable to an unreliable and inadequate workforce.”
Farmers and job seekers are urged to visit harvesttrail.gov.au or contact the National Harvest Labour Information Service on 1800 062 332 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm EST).