The Nationals WA say the Agriculture Minister continues to fail the State’s farmers and growers with her latest half-baked attempt to solve the agriculture sector’s acute workforce shortages.
Leader Mia Davies said the Labor Government’s plan to borrow overseas workers lured to the Northern Territory was too little, too late for WA’s agricultural and horticultural industries.
“Instead of big picture thinking and implementing measures to give our regional agribusinesses confidence they can harvest their crops, all they seem to get is token gestures from the Labor Government,” she said.
“Pinching a couple of hundred of labourers after the Northern Territory and Federal Government have done the heavy lifting to bring them into the country just doesn’t cut it.
“WA needs 7000 seasonal workers and this doesn’t give our farmers any confidence they will get their crops from farm gate to market.
“Our $10 billion agricultural sector deserves more than slogans and poorly thought out policy, they need a Government that works on real solutions to bring people into the State safely.”
The Minister also revealed today less than 60 applicants had received accommodation subsidies from the Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme.
Ms Davies said The Nationals WA had raised the prospect of workforce shortages as early as March with the Minister, encouraging Government to put plans in place to stem the loss of interstate and international workers.
“The Minister and Premier didn’t want to listen and now they are caught in the mire of their own inaction – and our farmers, growers and consumers are paying the price,” she said.
“WA families need to realise their higher grocery costs at Christmas are a direct result of the Labor Government sitting on their hands for the last seven months while our primary industries scream out for support to access more workers.”
The Nationals WA agriculture spokesperson Colin de Grussa said it was clear the Minister didn’t have the ear of the Premier in light of the Labor Government flagrantly dismissing any measure enabling workers to come into WA.
“This Government even dismissed out of hand the offer to sign the National Agriculture Workers Code despite most of the other States jumping on board,” he said.
“We again call on the Premier to stop using the hard border to suit his political agenda.
“WA needs to be smarter about the hard border in line with other States.
“We need to adopt a smarter approach that will enable workers to come into WA and help solve this growing and costly crisis.”