House debates

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Statements by Members

Skilled Agricultural Workforce

1:36 pm

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Workplace Relations) Share this | Hansard source

The Liberal-National government is hopeless. Another demonstration of how hopeless they are is their lack of planning when it comes to having a skilled agricultural workforce. We saw the debacle start to roll out last week. The National Party was saying, 'Yes, mates. It's all good. There will be an agricultural visa—a visa that's dedicated to ag,' and started to brief out about it, only to be whacked down by the Prime Minister, who said, 'That's not appropriate. Instead, we're going to force kids to work for the dole and pick fruit'—a proposal that has been condemned by farmers all round Australia. We have to point out again that the government created this current crisis when they messed around with backpackers. They introduced the backpacker tax, which scared a lot of people off working on farms. Not only did they do that; they expanded where you can work the 88 days to get the second-year visa. So they basically said to young backpackers in this country, 'You no longer work in agriculture to qualify for the extra year. You can work in hospitality; you can work in the tourism sector.' If you're a young backpacker who's here working in social work or in a school and you have to do 88 days in one of these locations, what are you going to choose? They're choosing to work in pubs in Cairns; they're choosing to work in hospitality. They are not choosing to work in harvest to help our farmers.


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