Senate debates

Monday, 9 August 2021


Agriculture Industry

1:32 pm

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I grew up on a family farm in the south-west of Western Australia and so I know how much of life in rural and regional communities is shaped by the success of our food and agricultural sectors. The Morrison government has sought to proactively address challenges faced by this sector throughout the pandemic, measures such as the International Freight Adjustment Mechanism, which has worked outstandingly well. But there are still problems facing the agricultural sector and without doubt at the moment labour shortages remain the most significant challenge for our agricultural sectors.

It has been reported in the Western Australian media that the WA grains industry, for example, could face a loss of $300 million if labour shortages cannot be addressed before the harvest starts. I suspect that the ingenuity of the agricultural sector will ameliorate that number significantly, but that is why the Morrison government is putting in place a dedicated agricultural worker visa program across all parts of agricultural industries, including horticulture, but also meat processing, dairy, wool, grains, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry. We need a movement of labour into our country to address some of the serious skills challenges we face. In the grains sector we are talking about very skilled workers, from truck drivers to machinery operators, diesel mechanics and the like. These come from further afield than perhaps we think of when we think of migration coming for agricultural purposes—for example, from the USA and Canada.

We must always keep at the forefront of our minds that agriculture is an essential service. We need to feed ourselves. We need to help feed the world. We need to be good and reliable trading partners, particularly through this pandemic. (Time expired)


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