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Australian melon farmer wants Horticultural visa to fix labour shortageAccording to one Middle Point melon farmer, access to, and the quality of, labour is an ongoing issue for northern melon and mango farmers. Last year the negative impact of the backpacker tax debate saw large volumes of fruit being left to rot due to a lack of workers willing to pick it.
Dave Cormac said every year there were fewer people available during the peak harvest season. "We have a problem in this country where it seems like nobody wants to work on a farm," Mr Cormac said.
"Backpackers were doing OK, but it is not good enough for the whole industry to be relying on people who may come or may not come.
After struggling to find enough backpackers to pick his melons in the past few years, and the lack of skilled tractor drivers and workers with farm experience, Mr Cormac was unsure how he would fill his labour quota.
Mr Cormac said for smaller farmers such as himself, the outlay of costs involved in registering, being approved, and the conditions involved in supporting the SWP workers while they were in Australia were prohibitive.
Mr Cormac said allowing workers to enter Australia on a short-tern horticultural visa could fix his labour issues.
"If you nominated [a country] you could have people approved in advance, and an approved farmer like ourselves, so if the day comes you need more staff, it is only a matter of days rather than weeks you can get the additional staff you need," he said.
Publication date: 3/20/2017
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