Senate debates

Wednesday, 2 September 2020


Northern Territory: Agriculture Industry

3:38 pm

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I inform the chamber that Senator Ciccone will also sponsor the motion. At the request of Senators McCarthy and Ciccone, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) acknowledges that:

(i) Northern Territory (NT) farmers are at crisis point, facing a shortage of mango pickers for the imminent mango season,

(ii) the NT mango harvest is worth $125 million to the NT economy and plant-based industries combined are worth $355 million,

(iii) the NT is the country's largest grower of mangoes, producing around 52% of the national mango crop,

(iv) between 2,200 and 2,500 workers are required for the mango picking season in the NT,

(v) worker shortages of seasonal workers have been exacerbated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic limiting national and international travel, and

(vi) the National Farmers' Federation warned the Morrison Government, pre-COVID, that 'agriculture's workforce deficit is one of the largest constraints to our sector's productivity growth and we need solutions for agriculture to reach its potential of being a $100 billion industry by 2030'; and

(b) calls on the Government to urgently act to come up with creative and innovative solutions to support farmers facing this seasonal worker crisis.

3:39 pm

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Morrison government is committed to helping the agricultural and horticultural industries in Australia to thrive. We're assisting growers with accessing the workers they need and ensuring the essential food supply sectors of the Australian economy are supported. In addition to employment services, the government supports targeted agricultural workforce programs such as the Seasonal Worker Program, the Pacific Labour Scheme and Harvest Trail Services. A trial to bring up to 170 seasonal workers to Australia has been announced to assist with upcoming harvests in the Northern Territory. The cap of 170 workers was set by the Northern Territory government. We look forward to working with the government of Vanuatu on the trial.

Question agreed to.