Skills Summit ‘fails to alleviate’ industry concern

Skills Summit ‘fails to alleviate’ industry concern

Last week’s national Jobs and Skills Summit has done nothing to alleviate concerns for the agricultural industry in Barker, according to Member for Barker Tony Pasin (pictured).

“While the Coalition Government identified the workforce shortage long ago and despite aggressive opposition by the union movement took steps to see the issue addressed, the recent talk fest has confirmed the Labor Party seems more interested in capitulating to its union comrades than actually helping the food supply chain with the workforce it urgently needs,” Mr Pasin said.

Mr Pasin called Labor out for “creating both a cost of living and food security crisis by prioritising the interests of unions over farmers when the industry has already outlined the cause of higher prices at the checkout”.

“Industry have identified a workforce shortage in agriculture and food processing of over 170,000 workers. All the ALP has done since coming to Government is scrap the Ag Visa and hold a talk fest with trade unions,” he said.  

“When farmers start making decisions not to plant crops, rip trees out or not re-stock at the saleyards based on labour shortages across the supply chain, it means supply drops and prices go up. It’s basic economics.

“The Coalition’s Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme has been a huge success to many sectors of the ag industry, but it’s not enough. Pure arithmetic will show the Labor Government is limiting the farming and food processing sectors to only a fraction of what they can provide.”

Mr Pasin said the Labor Government was suggesting 52,000 workers from the Pacific to fill shortages in agriculture, “leaving the industry at least 120,000 workers short, while the PALM Scheme is now also being drawn on for aged care and other industries”.

“The meat industry is forecasting that by 2023 the volume of livestock will be far greater than the meat processing industry can process,” he said.

“This means we need solutions to address this issue now. I’m yet to hear Labor and their union mates come up with a solution that goes anywhere near the scope and scale required to avoid a food security crisis and keep our agricultural sector on the path to $100b by 2030.

“‘So far, this Labor Government has scrapped the Ag Visa, committed to ban live exports, failed to act with any urgency on FMD and indicated they will bring back water buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin.

“None of this is doing anything to see our agricultural industry and wider supply chain reach its potential.”

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