21 August 2020


AUSVEG, Australia’s peak industry body for vegetable and potato growers, has welcomed the announcements from Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlining the intention for an agricultural workers’ code and the restart of the Seasonal Worker Programme.


The announcements made by the Prime Minister followed a National Cabinet meeting, where it agreed to come up with a plan to allow farmers to cross state borders more easily within the next two weeks.


State Governments, with the endorsements of their State’s Chief Medical Health Officers, will also be able to restart the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme to allow eligible workers to come to Australia. This follows a pilot program agreed to by the Federal and Northern Territory Governments to allow workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme travel to Northern Territory farms to undertake vital farm work.


AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said that the announcements were positive steps by the government to address labour shortages but there was still more work to be done.


“We have said that solutions to this issue will need a multi-pronged approach and today’s announcement is a great step forward; but there is still more to do,” Mr Whiteside said.


“Fresh fruits and vegetables are a vital component to the health and wellbeing of every Australian and need to be picked and sent to market when they are ready, otherwise they will go to waste.”


“Growers always have a preference to employ local workers, particularly during the current economic environment that is resulting in many Australians losing their livelihoods, but the reality is that local workers, for whatever reason, have not taken up opportunities to work on fruit and vegetable farms.”


“There have been ongoing concerns in the industry that there will be a shortage of workers on fruit and vegetable farms particularly given the decline in Working Holiday Makers in Australia.”


“The Government’s announcements today are a signal that it is willing to hear the concerns from industry and that it is willing to find solutions to potentially devastating problems.”


“We will continue to work with the state and federal governments to develop solutions to ensure the interstate movement of agricultural workers and essential workers to give farmers confidence that they will have the workers they need to get their food and fibre products to consumers during this turbulent time.”


Mr Whiteside urged growers to workforce plan as much as possible as there was still expected to be a shortage in the sector due to backpackers returning home.


“Growers are urged to use the National Harvest Labour Information Service (NHLIS) to lodge their labour requirements to help manage their way through what is expected to be a turbulent time,” said Mr Whiteside.



MEDIA CONTACT: Shaun Lindhe, AUSVEG National Manager – Communications
Phone: 03 9882 0277, Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: shaun.lindhe@ausveg.com.au