Australian jobseekers could get incentives to work on regional farms

regional harvest workThe federal budget due on Tuesday will likely include measures to help plug labour shortages in the farm sector threatening the harvest of fruit and vegetables. Unemployed Australians could be offered financial incentives to take up regional harvest work in the federal budget to be handed down next week.


Agriculture Minister David Littleproud wants jobless Australians to “have a crack” at picking fruit and vegetables.

“So we’re working through some measures that could be announced very soon around incentivising Australians who are on JobSeeker, but also Youth Allowance recipients, to look at measures and opportunities for them,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.

The measures could include allowing welfare recipients to earn up to $300 a fortnight before their benefits were affected.

As well, backpackers, Pacific Island workers and other seasonal workers will be able to extend their visas to stay in Australia to help during the harvest period, according to The Australian.

The 30 year age limit on working holiday visas could also be dumped so more people can take on the work.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of state and international borders, the agriculture sector has struggled to find enough workers.

The budget will be released on 6 October.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said he was working closely with farmers on additional measures ahead of next week’s federal budget.

“Farmers don’t have the luxury of sitting around waiting for workers to turn up and we don’t want fruit rotting on the vine or crops left in the field,” he told AAP on Wednesday.

Even before coronavirus, labour shortages have been a key issue in agriculture, with the coalition yet to heed calls for a dedicated farm worker visa. Tough working conditions and low pay have historically been seen as a barrier to Australians filling the jobs.

 

regional harvest work
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said he was working closely with farmers on additional measures ahead of next week’s federal budget

 

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