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7000 local farm workers expose Nationals’ myth of ‘lazy Australians’

March 9, 2022

The myth that Australians don’t want to pick fruit has been explosively discredited in Parliament, with over 7000 people in Australia taking on seasonal farm work in past few years.

The AgMove program, launched at the end of 2020, offers people in Australia up to $2000 to cover relocation costs after two weeks of seasonal labour. Workers also receive an additional $4000 after four weeks’ work.

Over 7000 people in Australia have taken part, with an average of $1600 claimed per worker.

AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton says these numbers debunk the idea that Australians won’t work on farms.

“The Nationals and their mates in the farming lobby have said for years that without bringing in more migrant workers, their horticultural industry would fail.”

“Despite the pandemic, and the so-called labour shortage as the borders closed, growers saw two successive years of record production and profits.”

“2022 is on track to be another record year, so to say that the industry actually needs more short-term visas then we currently have to survive is simply untrue.”

Mr Walton also takes issue with the industry’s constant exploitation of short-term migrant workers. “Bringing in even more workers on a new visa won’t fix the ongoing exploitation of these workers.”

“When there is a genuine need for additional labour on our farms, we should look to long-term, secure migration with checks and balances like the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme.”

“While the PALM scheme has issues, it does hold employers responsible for the well-being of their workers. Every worker deserves to be paid and treated fairly.”

The figures emerged as National ministers continued to blame the AWU and their Coalition partners for the failure of the ill-fated Ag Visa. First announced in July last year, the Ag Visa has failed to sign up a single partner nation, with the Philippines withdrawing completely from negotiations.

“Our Asean neighbours have very real concerns about exploitation and abuse, reported by their own citizens, and exposed in the government’s own inquiries and reports.”

“Instead of Liberal and National ministers pointing fingers and blaming each other, they should take a good look at how the exploitation in our farming industry has become our national shame,” Mr Walton says.

From April 28, all farmworkers must be paid at least the minimum casual rate of $25.41 per hour, after the AWU successfully won changes to the Award last year.


You can support the AWU’s campaign and join the call to scrap the dangerous Ag Visa here.0


Correction: This article originally stated that 7000 Australians had taken up the program. The AgMove program covers both Australian citizens/permanent residents and visa holders already in Australia.

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