The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has called on the Andrews Labor Government to act now to ensure sufficient workers are available for the upcoming harvest season.
Speaking during the adjournment debate on the sole sitting day of State Parliament this week, Ms Lovell sought a commitment from Minister for Agriculture Mary Ann Thomas to act quickly so that overseas workers can arrive and quarantine here in Victoria to avoid a repeat of the massive labour shortage experienced last season that severely impacted farmers throughout the industry.
In her contribution, Ms Lovell slammed the inaction of the State Government prior to the 2020/21 harvest season and the decision to force incoming workers to quarantine in Tasmania under the Pacific Islander Labour Scheme.
Ms Lovell said the government signed up late to the scheme and workers arrived too late for season, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars throughout the industry as precious produce rotted on trees unpicked.
Ms Lovell said the Minister must allow overseas workers to quarantine here in Victoria to ensure our horticultural industry has the labour force needed for the 2021/22 harvest season.
Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell:
“Last year the Andrews Labor Government ignored warning from the horticulture industry of the impending labour shortage and growers lost millions of dollars’ worth of unpicked fruit as a result.
“The Shepparton and Cobram areas alone require about 7000 workers to harvest the entire season’s produce and the Minister needs to act now to ensure history does not repeat this year.
“I call on the Government to act quickly by allowing overseas workers to complete their quarantine here in Victoria, so they are ready to commence work on our farms in December.”
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