Premier, Peter Gutwein, has demonstrated an alarming disregard for the looming crisis facing Tasmanian fruit and vegetable farmers.
Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Shane Broad MP said up to 8,000 seasonal pickers are needed to avert disaster for the local industry.
“Tasmania’s farmers face devastation if they can’t get their produce off the trees and out of the ground,” Dr Broad said.
“When asked about this critical issue in Parliament, Mr Gutwein attempted to suggest the matter was under control.
“That’s not what we are hearing from farmers.
“The government are funding an advertising blitz encouraging Tasmanians who have lost work during COVID-19 to take up fruit and vegetable picking this season, but farmers are telling us that is not enough,” Dr Broad said.
“The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and National Farmers Federation have called for changes to JobSeeker support to ensure there is no disincentive to unemployed Tasmanians taking up seasonal jobs.
“This is vital for rapidly growing sectors like berry and short-turnaround vegetables like broccolini, with pickers needed now to avoid flow-on effects later in the season. Without urgent action or adequate numbers of pickers, fruit and vegetables will be left to rot and growers will go broke.
“The Premier must lobby for changes to JobSeeker to reduce barriers to seasonal work and give Tasmanians the confidence to take it on and support our hard-working farmers.
“Making buses available from major centres to famers would also provide the support needed to get people with limited transport options to and from this important work.
“This industry is a cornerstone of the Tasmanian economy – we need to do more than pay for glossy ads. We need incentives to get locals back to work and support our local industry.”
Shane Broad MP
Shadow Minister for Primary Industries