Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman is calling on the State Government to set up an industry taskforce to develop strategies that address the looming shortage of regional workers.
The Nationals WA support the current hard border which provides a strong safeguard against community transmission of COVID-19 but understand the importance of keeping our agricultural, horticultural and tourism sectors viable and functioning.
“This is a quandary that needs input from industry and health advisers to determine a workable solution because a crisis is just around the corner,” Mr Redman said.
“There are three key areas where workers are needed. Firstly the agricultural sector has significant seasonal workforce requirements including shearers and specialised machinery operators.
“Secondly, the horticultural sector needs pickers and pruners in vineyards, the pome fruit sector and the harvesting of avocadoes. Lastly the tourism and hospitality industry needs kitchen hands, wait staff, baristas and cleaners to help with the recent resurgence of bookings.
“While there is a unified need to address regional worker shortages, there are significant differences between the sectors which will need to be addressed in any Government response.”
Mr Redman said many jobs within the agricultural sector are specialised and require training and experience.
“Shearers need more than a six-month training course and heavy machinery operators need to be skilled,” he said.
Other positions can be learnt on the job, particularly fruit picking, café work and cleaning.
“Many in the community believe local displaced workers should take up these jobs but the reality is that this is not happening,” Mr Redman said.
“There are a range of issues that need some analysis, including isolated locations, Jobseeker payments, availability of accommodation and pay rates.
“This is why I believe it is imperative the State Government set up an industry taskforce to find a way to support our agricultural, horticultural and tourism sectors in regional WA.”