Farmers are furious – and rightfully so – at the Victorian Labor Government’s silence surrounding the urgent need for action on seasonal workers.
While Premier Daniel Andrews and his government have had no problem in dedicating resources to ensure hundreds of elite international tennis players and their entourages can come to Melbourne for the Australian Open, the calls for help from farmers continues to fall on deaf ears.
In early December, Daniel Andrews acknowledged that Victoria needed 25,000 overseas workers to ensure fruit didn’t start rotting on the trees.
Comments made the Premier today suggests he has pulled the doona over his head because he doesn’t want to face this reality.
While we all want the Australian Open to proceed, the Premier has shown his colours as to the risk he is willing to put Victorians at by bringing in planeloads of people who have been particularly susceptible to catching COVID-19 in recent months.
Contrast this with his inability to bring in fruit pickers from Pacific islands that have been free of COVID-19 for months and/or other countries that are offering to send pickers who have already been vaccinated.
The Federal Government’s agriculture, employment, and immigration ministers have made it blatantly clear to Daniel Andrews that they are ready to help in any way they possibly can.
We are just waiting for a set of quarantine protocols and any other requirements that Victoria insists on so we can bring these vital workers in.
This year, our orchardists are experiencing a once-in-a-generation year with record yields on the trees already.
I totally support Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano’s call on the Andrews Government, as reported in the media today. Ms Germano is one of many industry representatives who have been lobbying the Andrews Government – so far, without any success.