House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Statements by Members

Fruit Industry

1:56 pm

Photo of Sam BirrellSam Birrell (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's a very exciting time in the Goulburn Valley. We are reaching the peak of the fruit harvest season. It kicks off in December when the apricots come off, then the peaches. Now we're into the pears—the packham pears and the williams pears, which go to SPC to go into cans and snack packs. Soon enough, the apples will be ripe, and the pink ladies, the galas and the granny smiths will be going into the stores for all Australians to enjoy. It's a great industry and it leads to a lot of employment in my region. We have backpackers, PALM workers, all sorts of people, coming in to help harvest the fruit.

It's getting a lot harder to be a fruit grower at the moment, because of a lot of forces. Some of them come from the government. There is a lot of insecurity around irrigation water at the moment. IR laws make it much more difficult to run a small business, which most orchards are. And the changes to the PALM scheme are unworkable, as a lot of orchardists have told me. Also, supermarkets are not paying fruit growers enough. Their costs are going up, but their prices are going up, so it's very difficult.

The fruit growers in my electorate are working really hard to try and put clean fruit on the tables of Australian people. How about the Labor government and the supermarkets support them and give them a hand?