Victoria’s delayed response still putting the squeeze on farmers

Victoria’s horticulture harvest is in full swing but the Andrews Labor Government is still full of excuses on why it has failed to do the work to get seasonal workers on farm.

Asked to detail the Victorian solution today, Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes said quarantine through the Northern Territory – which comes with an estimated cost of $8000 per worker – was still the preferred solution.

Shadow Minster for Agriculture Peter Walsh said price rises of up to 25 per cent were now predicted on festive fruits, like plums, peaches and cherries, and vegetables as a result of the worker shortage.

“Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes is full of excuses, but light on solutions,” Mr Walsh said.

“Other states have programs in place that have already brought hundreds of workers on farm but all we’ve got from the Agriculture Minister is empty promises that still haven’t delivered.

“Jaclyn Symes should spend less time attempting to pass the buck to the Federal Government and more time actually doing her job to put a quarantine framework in place that gets workers on farm – now.”

The Federal Government has put programs in place to ensure workers can get through Australia’s border closures, but it’s up to the states to manage quarantine programs.

In a meeting last month, Agriculture Department officials said quarantine through Howard Springs, not Victoria, was the preferred solution, at least until the hotel quarantine inquiry hands down its final report on the bungled scheme in late December.

“The Andrews Labor Government claims it can host international tennis players for the Australian Open, but refuses to find a way to get agriculture workers on farm,” Mr Walsh said.

“Labor fails to understand it’ll be all over for our farmers if they can’t get the fruit off the trees in time.

“Not only that, but consumers will pay more at the checkout at Christmas because of the Andrews Labor Government’s pig-headed incompetence.”

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