Labour relief on its ways

Labour relief on its ways

Horticulture
Pacific Islander workers will arrive in SA shortly to begin quarantine, before working to help the horticulture harvest. Nationally, the berry and vegetable sectors have been hardest hit by the shortage. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Pacific Islander workers will arrive in SA shortly to begin quarantine, before working to help the horticulture harvest. Nationally, the berry and vegetable sectors have been hardest hit by the shortage. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

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PACIFIC Islander workers are expected to arrive in SA within weeks to support local horticultural businesses during the present labour shortage.

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PACIFIC Islander workers are expected to arrive in SA within weeks to support local horticultural businesses during the present labour shortage.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said summer was a peak time for seasonal work in SA with up to 9000 workers required in a calendar year.

"We have received four applications from businesses looking to bring workers into SA under the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme, with the first of these workers expected to arrive in the coming weeks with more expected throughout the year," he said.

All Pacific workers arriving directly into SA will need to enter hotel quarantine for 14 days, with the cost paid by their employer. Support of $500 per worker is available through the $4.45-million seasonal and regional jobs support package.

Mr Basham said they were also promoting the industry to key groups, such as older workers, international students, gap year students, and school and university students, who had the flexibility to take up short-term work.

"At the same time, we are putting out a call to action to anyone who is available to take up seasonal and regional work," he said.

The seasonal program also includes incentives of up to $2000 for students moving to regions to take up regional - but not agricultural - jobs to meet the high demand in other industries.

Mr Basham said there had been significant interest in the program, with 80,000 views of the website since its launch.

RELATED:Vanuatu offers national airline to bring harvest workers

So far, an estimated $38 million in produce is thought to have been lost nationally, due to the labour shortage, with vegetables and berries the worst-hit sectors.

The information comes from a Lost Crop Register, based on growers reporting the impact on their businesses, with at least two so far having $10m in losses.

The state with the largest reported impact so far is Qld, with an estimated $30.8m, followed by NSW with $5.34, WA with $2.25m, Vic with just under $300,000 and NT with about $100,000 in losses.

Growcom policy and advocacy manager Richard Shannon said while so far there had been no reports from SA, many growers might not be aware of the register, as it launched during harvest.

He said the different seasonality between states could also explain some differences.

"It is vitally important as an industry that we record and track these losses," he said.

"The evidence we gather through this national register will enable us to inform decision-making and improve our ability to advocate for greater government intervention where necessary."

  • Details: bit.ly/NationalLostCropRegister

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