AUSVEG, the industry representative for Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, has welcomed the announcement from Federal and Northern Territory Governments to conduct a trial that will see workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme travel to Northern Territory farms to undertake vital farm work.
The trial will see up to 170 workers from Vanuatu come to Australia to support the timely harvest of mangoes in the Northern Territory, which will provide critical workers to help fill labour shortages in seasonal harvest work in the region and test the entry and management of foreign workers in a controlled way. Each worker will travel to the Northern Territory and be required to undertake a 14-day quarantine period before commencing the harvest work.
AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said that the announcement was necessary to give the territory’s farmers confidence that they will be able to harvest their crops and supply high quality fresh produce to Australian and international consumers, particularly in the lead up to the critically-important mango harvest season.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are a vital component to the health and wellbeing of every Australian and need to be picked and sent to market when they are ready, otherwise they will go to waste,” said Mr Whiteside.
“Growers always have a preference to employ local workers, particularly during the current economic environment that is resulting in many Australians losing their livelihoods, but the reality is that local workers, for whatever reason, have not taken up opportunities to work on fruit and vegetable farms.”
“There are growing concerns in the industry that there will be a shortage of workers on fruit and vegetable farms particularly given the decline in Working Holiday Makers in Australia.”
“The announcement of this trial is a welcome acknowledgement from the government that the industry is facing significant labour challenges and that it is willing to engage with industry to find practical solutions to ensure growers are able to harvest their fruits and vegetables.”
“This trial is a good first step to finding solutions to the industry’s current and pending labour shortages, and we hope to be able to work closely with each state and territory government, as well as the federal government, to ensure that our industry has the workers it needs to harvest crops.”