Seasonal workers offer for Victoria ignored

Four months after an offer to supply up to 2000 seasonal workers to Victoria from Vanuatu was made, it continues to be ignored by The Andrews Labor Government.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath raised the offer from the Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu for seasonal workers (p.39/96) during Question Time with the former Minister for Agriculture in state parliament during October 2020.

Ms Bath said it is inconceivable that door remains firmly shut on seasonal workers from the South Pacific especially when there is little or no cases of coronavirus.

“In contrast Daniel Andrews has rolled out the welcome mat has for athletes and their entourages from some the biggest COVID hotspots worldwide.

“The Andrews Government committed to creating a solution to seasonal workers by 1 December 2020, but months later Victorian fruit and vegetable growers have commenced the heartbreaking process of ploughing mature crops into the ground,” said Ms Bath.

“With the Victorian harvest season ramping up, the Andrews Government must immediately announce a program to allow seasonal workers into Victoria, instead of locking up our state and throwing away the key.

Victoria has failed to deliver a seasonal worker program despite other Australian states successfully establishing quarantine programs with support from the Federal Liberal Nationals Government.

Ms Bath said there is nothing particularly logistically challenging about creating a seasonal worker scheme for Victoria.

“If Daniel Andrews had the political will, Victoria’s seasonal worker scheme would be established by now,” said Ms Bath.

“The offer of a 2000 strong workforce from Vanuatu remains on the table, it has come down to the Andrews Labor Government’s priorities.

“Only this week we saw Vanuatu fruit pickers arrive in Adelaide before heading to Hotel Quarantine for 14 days, yet Daniel Andrews continues to pedal excuses.

“Most Victorians would agree there is nothing more important than supporting farmers and ensuring the supply of locally grown food.

“The longer Daniel Andrews delays a decision; the more likely consumers will experience limited supply and higher food prices in 2021.

“Labor has failed to recognise that in times like these, international sport remains a luxury, but that maintaining the supply of fresh food is an absolute necessity.

“I am calling on the Andrews Government to our support farmers, immediately implement a seasonal workers scheme and make local industry its priority.”