DAIRY Australia has reiterated there is a skills shortage that does hamper dairy businesses in response to a call by the Australian Workers' Union to stop foreign workers being able to fill those roles.
The AWU issued a statement calling on Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to block what they call a "bizarre" attempt to import foreign workers to fill jobs that could be performed by locals in the present environment.
The union claimed DA had recently applied to the Department of Home Affairs to enable farmers to hire overseas workers on temporary visas.
AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said dairy industry bosses had provided no evidence of a genuine skills shortages in the position of Senior Dairy Cattle Stockperson.
"DA has not provided a single example of a farm that has been unsuccessful in its attempts to advertise for and fill the position of a Senior Dairy Cattle Stockperson," he said.
"In fact we have not seen any example of labour market testing whatsoever.
"Regional Australia is hurting badly in the wake of Covid. There would be thousands and thousands of young Australians who would love to score a job in the dairy industry.
"But DA wants to hand those jobs to overseas workers without making even the slightest attempt to fill the vacancy domestically."
A spokesperson for DA said claims of a recent application were incorrect, with this part of the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement template available to the Australian dairy industry since 2015.
They said DA undertook consultation with the AWU at regular intervals on behalf of all dairyfarmers seeking labour agreements, rather than requiring each individual business to consult.
The spokesperson said there was a real skills shortage across all levels of dairy, but particularly at the FLH 5-7 stage under the Pastoral Award 2010, which is why the Australian government had facilitated a labour agreement at that level.
At this time, only 10 dairyfarming businesses are listed on the Department of Home Affairs website as holding DILAs, meaning the number of overseas workers on Australian dairy farms at this time was low.
The spokesperson also said the standards for any overseas worker entering under a DILA were high, while DA was also required to demonstrate a commitment to investing in the development of an Australian workforce.
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Mr Walton said the use of international workers was "bizarre" in "this economic climate".
"Mr Dutton needs to assure regional Australian that the federal government will not permit desperately needed local dairy jobs to be handed over to foreign workers for no reason," he said.
"How can the industry consider the use of migrant workers reasonable at a time when hundreds of thousands of regional Australians are unemployed?
"Dairy Australia needs to decide if it's on Team Australia or not.
"Instead of lazily trying import foreign workers, the dairy industry should be increasing training for existing and new domestic employees to remedy the alleged shortage of qualified and skilled workers. We have seen zero evidence of this."
The AWU said it had written to Dairy Australia and the Department of Home Affairs noting that there is no supporting evidence of a genuine and ongoing shortages for the position of Senior Dairy Cattle Stockperson.
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