At this point in time, the Northern Territory is all set to welcome seasonal workers and ‘working holiday makers’ from the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. However, growers from other states say they'll run into losses if their labour needs remain unfulfilled.
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud: “The Northern Territory's mango producers in particular are facing a rough road ahead without the workers they rely on for their harvest. That's going to come to a head when the mango harvest starts in earnest in September.”
However, growers in other regions are still feeling the strain. SBS Punjabi spoke with three Punjabi farmers with big land holdings in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to weigh in on the federal government’s recent announcements. These farmers concur that because local Australian workers are not very keen to do the hard yards in farms, the need for seasonal farmworkers is a pan-Australia concern, thus reinforcing the need for extending the program to other states as well.
Mr Singh’s from Punjab Top Quality Growers: “Our business is seasonal in nature. We employ a steady stream of working holidaymakers and seasonal employees from overseas. We train them, they work for three months at our farm and then leave because their motive is to travel across Australia and also make some money along the way.”
Adding that this increases the cost of training markedly, Mr Singh explains, “It’ll be better for farmers like us if the government starts a seasonal work visa instead of giving working holidaymaker visa.”