As the aging labor crisis worsens, farmers are satisfied with the latest ‘t-photo-tat’ between governments.
Another new task force is urging farmers to stop playing “TT-FOOT-TAT” with the farming labor crisis.
NSW, Victoria, ensenland and Tasmania are working together on a single East Coast agricultural labor force to address the ongoing labor shortage in the ag sector.
In response, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleprud said many states still did not agree to allow cross-border crossings for AGG workers or for foreign workers to be locked in neutral routes.
Outraged industry groups see the issue as another round of transition between the states and the Commonwealth.
“They are screaming at the wrong tree,” said Emma Gernono, president of the Victoria Farmers’ Federation.
They continue to tit-photo, and this task is just another part of it.
Coping with the estimated 24,000 labor shortages in the summer alone has been a divisive issue since the outbreak of the CVD-19 epidemic.
The Commonwealth’s Pacific Island Workers’ Program is currently the only way for foreign harvest workers to enter the country. While regional governments have a responsibility to organize their quarantine arrangements, Victoria and NSW have called for a national approach to the labor crisis.
“The states are now leading the way,” said NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall.
Victoria Agriculture Minister Mary An Thomas, for her part, said Mr Lipprod had not yet responded to the table with him and all regional ministers.
“The federal government must show leadership in the long-term, national integrated solution to the challenges facing the industry,” he said.
The task force looks at how the current Federal Employee Program is being addressed, identifying skills and training gaps, developing a “road map” to address structural issues in the sector, and promoting agricultural activities.
Similar issues were identified earlier this year in the federal government’s National Agricultural Workers’ Strategy. An evaluation of the current staff program is also underway.
Industrial groups say they want governments to focus on what they can control immediately. Border closure is still hampering travel between the states, and Victoria will not extend its efforts to bring in key Pacific Islanders this month.
For her part, Ms. Gerno said, “You can’t just get confused by trying to figure out what the problem is – the problem.
“Put some workers in, put a quarantine, then maybe there’s a solution.”
Tyson Cattle, public affairs manager at AusVeg, said most of the task force’s plans were the responsibility of the Commonwealth.
The main thing we need to see from the task force is the commitment to free movement of workers – this should be number one on the agenda, he said.
At this point, our bullets on the labor force will remain in the Pacific’s action plans, and we want states to focus on neutral capacity.
Mr. Lipprod, for his part, said that “it is their job” to welcome co-working states. He said Queensland, Tasmania and the Wies were still not registered with the Agarkers Act to allow free trade between countries, and the states confirmed in December last year that they were responsible for discriminating against workers.
“Nothing has changed and if the state ministers can help, the national cabinet will accept these solutions,” he said.