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Life on the land in Australia

Canberra allows unskilled farm visas for overseas workers as young Australians refuse jobs on the land

Sheep property owner Alexander Sandy Smith says it is hard to convonce some unemployed to leave the cities-image www.ozrural.com.au

Sheep property owner Alexander “Sandy” Smith says it is hard to convonce some unemployed to leave the cities. Pic: Mark Cranitch.

LAZY, unemployed Aussies who refuse to get off their couches have forced the Turnbull Government to import labourers for the first time to work on stock and grain farms.

Farmers frustrated by a lack of Australians willing to get their hands dirty are today applauding the decision, which will help boost productivity and revenue.

Despite youth unemployment ballooning to 20 per cent in some parts of the country, farmers can’t find local workers, prompting Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm to question whether dole bludgers would suddenly find a work ethic if they were stripped of “other people’s money’’ and were “starving’’.

Senator David Leyonhjelm has questioned why some Australians think they’re too good for farm work-image www.ozrural.com.au

Senator David Leyonhjelm has questioned why some Australians think they’re too good for farm work.

This comes as a wool industry group warned that Australia was at risk of losing the traditional skill of sheep shearing because it was training the bare minimum of shearers. Australia imports Irish, Canadian and Kiwi shearers to help fill busy seasonal periods.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce will today announce an expansion of the seasonal low-skilled worker program to agriculture for Pacific Island nations.

The program is already open to horticulture, which helps businesses find overseas fruit pickers when they cannot find Australian workers.

Since 2012, more than 70 employers have benefited from the 8600 visas issued to help them fill jobs. Under the program, a boss needs to advertise locally first.

“(The program) has been highly effective in helping Australian businesses overcome seasonal labour shortages,’’ Senator Cash told The Courier-Mail. Mr Joyce said it was a win for farmers and good for Australia’s relationship with Pacific Island nations and Timor- Leste.

“This is good news for Australian farming enterprises that now have more options for seasonal labour and can better plan for their harvests and other busy periods,” he said.

A National Farmers’ Federation spokeswoman said the program gave many farms a productive and reliable workforce.

“Expansion of the program is something we at the NFF have worked hard to achieve,” sha said. “With the opportunities ahead for Australian agriculture, lifting productivity is a key goal of the sector.

“There is a direct link between use of the program and higher productivity.’’

Backpackers harvest choy sum on a vegetable processing line at Wavertree Farms in Gatton-image www.ozrural.com.au

Backpackers harvest choy sum on a vegetable processing line at Wavertree Farms in Gatton. Pic: Claudia Baxter

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He warned that Australia was at risk of losing the skill of shearing because not enough people were being trained.

And he said the attitude of some Australians was causing the problem.

“We make it too easy for people. Kids at school are taught how to fill out dole forms,” he said.

“The problem we have is it’s too easy for people to say, ‘I’m sitting around town, I’ve got a missus and three kids, and the Government is giving me more than $1000 a week. Why would I want to work?’ ’’

Senator David Leyonhjelm has questioned why some Australians think they’re too good for farm work.

“Somehow we’ve created a mentality that people can just say, ‘I don’t want to do anything if I don’t like it’. I wonder if starvation would change attitudes?’’ Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“(Unemployed youth know) they can obtain welfare and they don’t need to get themselves a job.’’

He said to get the dole the jobless should first prove they had been knocked back from seasonal work.

JOBLESS SAY FARM WORK IS JUST ALL TOO HARD

LOW wages, early starts and a lack of advertising are among reasons young people remain unemployed rather than working on a local farm.

Kisha Plant, 18, and Jarryd Hall, 17, both of Bribie Island-image www.ozrural.com.au

Kisha Plant, 18, and Jarryd Hall, 17, both of Bribie Island

The Courier-Mail asked a group of job hunters from the Caboolture area, north of Brisbane, whether they would take a gig at a local fruit farm.

While almost all said they would consider the job, two of the six people surveyed, aged 17 to 20, had recently quit farm jobs blaming poor pay or working conditions.

Caboolture’s Louis Riley, who has been looking for a job for more than a year, tried farm work about four months ago when he became desperate for a job.

“Me and my mate ran out of work and we just wanted to do something to get money, but it turned out to be bad pay so we didn’t do it for very long,” said Mr Riley, 20, who is now on Centrelink payments.

“I wouldn’t do it again unless it was better pay.”

Robbie Shields, 19, of Woombye, Piper Ingram, 18, of Bray Park and Cuan Fraser, 18, of Mango Hill-image www.ozrural.com.au

Robbie Shields, 19, of Woombye, Piper Ingram, 18, of Bray Park and Cuan Fraser, 18, of Mango Hill. Pic: Tim Marsden

Mango Hill’s Cuan Fraser, 18, said he worked on a mango farm but it wasn’t an “ideal workplace”.

“I thought it was going to be simple and easy – it’s not. It’s more of a last option and I would rather work in the retail or customer service industries.

“But it’s a possibility because … it’s getting to the point where I’m really desperate for a job.”

Louis Riley, 20, of Caboolture-image www.ozrural.com.au

Kisha Plant, 18, from Bribie Island, said she had never seen any job listings for farm work. She also said the early hours were a problem because it could interfere with her study.

Boyfriend Jarryd Hall, 17, said he was eager for part-time work that would complement his studies.

“There is the association between farm work and people who come from overseas and generally work for cheaper wages,” he said.

Piper Ingram, 18, said she would definitely consider the work but the often seasonal conditions meant it was not a role that had a “high amount of job security”.

Friend Robbie Shields, 19, said he had never considered the work, and not knowing anyone with experience on a farm made it difficult.

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Henry Sapiecha

February 8th, 2016
Topic: BACKPACKERS, EMPLOYMENT, JOB WORK OPPORTUNITIES Tags: , , ,

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