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Relief for growers in Mallee this summer

HORTICULTURE farmers in Mallee will receive more support to resolve labour shortages with the signing of a new Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement.

The new agreement mean

s horticulture growers will have access to a skilled and semi- skilled workforce to help deliver the fruit and vegetables enjoyed by all Australians.

Member for Mallee Anne Webster said growers in the Mallee are now able to access the labour agreement

“We listened to our growers and we understand the issues they face,” Dr Webster said.

“We want to ensure the continued success of our growers, and that’s why the Government has worked closely with the horticulture industry in delivery this new labour agreement.

“This is the next piece of the puzzle in developing a sustainable, legal workforce.

“The recently announced RAMP was the first piece, and we are working hard with industry to ensure it is successful. Today’s announcement is the next step to compliment the RAMP and ensure we have the right workers, in the right place at the right time.”

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said the Government is focused on supporting regional economies by providing horticultural employers with access to more workers.

“We have worked with growers and industry representatives to negotiate this agreement as it is vital our farmers maximise their hard work and economic returns,” Mr Tudge said. 

“Our first priority is always to fill jobs with Australians, but the immigration system can play an important role in helping to address regional skills gaps and grow local economies.” 

The Horticulture Industry Labour Agreement follows the success of labour agreements in other industries such as the dairy, meat and pork industry.

It also complements existing migration programmes to support regional employers and communities, including the Working Holiday Maker Programme, Seasonal Worker Programme, the Pacific Labour Scheme and Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs).

Minister for Agriculture Senator McKenzie said the new labour agreement is a practical response to the desperate need across regional and rural Australia for greater access to skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers.

“This is about recognising that horticulture is a developed industry and requires a skilled workforce to continue to grow,” Ms McKenzie said.

“It is another example of how the Government is improving opportunities for growth and development in regional communities.”

From January 1 2020, horticultural employers are able to submit an application to the Department of Home Affairs to sponsor a migrant worker to come to Australia and fill one of the 31 approved occupations listed under the Labour Agreement.