Federal Government must postpone Horticulture Industry Award

AUSVEG CEO, Mr Richard Mulcahy, today wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon Julia Gillard MP, and the Federal Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Tony Burke MP, requesting they ask the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to postpone the start dates for the Horticulture Industry Award (HIA) until 1 July 2010, due to the significant impacts the HIA will have on Australian vegetable and potato growers.

As the peak industry body for the industry, AUSVEG represents the interests of over 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.

‘The AIRC made its decision to implement changes to the award on 23 December 2009 with a commencement date of 1 January 2010. This start date is completely ridiculous considering this is one of the busiest times for growers who have been hectic supplying fresh produce to Australians enjoying their Christmas break,’ Mr Mulcahy said.

‘We’ve had no opportunity – and no support – to educate the industry on these changes,’ Mr Mulcahy continued.

‘These are significant changes, which will have severe economic consequences for growers and their families. This is the worst start possible to the New Year for growers and the Government should see common sense and set a reasonable start date for the Awards.’

‘It would make more sense to implement the awards on 1 July 2010, giving industry opportunity to review the changes and growers the chance to understand what the new Award system will involve.’

The AIRC completed its review of the proposed HIA but many of the findings remain unsatisfactory to the vegetable and potato industries.

The piecework loading provisions and the AIRC’s decision to leave the loading rate at 15 per cent, rather than adjust it down to 12.5 per cent as suggested represent major economic hurdles for growers.

Mr Mulcahy commended the Cherry Growers of Australia CEO, Trevor Ranford, for taking the initiative on the issue.

‘The Horticulture Industry as a whole needs time to fully review these changes and make further recommendations to the Federal Government but it is perplexing we were given only between Christmas and New Years Eve to do so,’ Mr Mulcahy said.

‘To think that growers have had time to check the AIRC website and take in these complex changes is absurd. The start date must surely be pushed back so that growers are given a fair chance to comply with the new system,’ he said.


MEDIA CONTACT: Hugh Tobin, Communications Manager, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9544 8098, Mobile: 0431 939 920, Email: hugh.tobin@ausveg.com.au

AUSVEG website www.ausveg.com.au