Greens' Tasmanian fruit picking jobs fix bid

John Brown. Picture: Cordell Richardson.
John Brown. Picture: Cordell Richardson.

Workers from the mainland could help deal with a shortage of fruit pickers  in Tasmania, the Tasmanian Greens say.

The Greens want the state government to immediately establish a working group of stakeholders to identify, understand and tackle the issues

It follows the revelation a  North-West apple grower is in danger of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sassafras Orchards owner John Brown said he was about 60 pickers short.

He  suggested a combination of the federal backpacker tax and increased competition for casual workers were factors.

Greens primary industries spokesperson Andrea Dawkins said there was “a small window of opportunity to do something about the lack of fruit pickers before producers lose their crop”. 

“The picker shortage is not being felt in other mainland states, but they're not getting to the island this year.

“There are possible easy fixes, like nationwide advertising and travel discounts on the Spirits.

“We won't know exactly what's needed, however, until everyone's around the table.”

The Greens want the group to work with interstate bodies to get pickers to Tasmania and talk with the federal government about legislative fixes.

Those might include an earnings threshold for Newstart recipients before they start losing benefits.

“The Greens understand there are labour contract firms in other states who are willing to share information and refer fruit pickers,” Ms Dawkins said.

“This is an issue that stretches across party lines and jurisdiction, and the state's fruit growers need our help now.”

This story Greens in bid for harvest pickers fix first appeared on The Advocate.


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