Employ asylum seekers

Speakers: Deputy Premier Peter Ryan (right) officially opened an industry transitions conference in Morwell. With him is one of the speakers Grant Crothers, CEO of Burra Foods.

ASYLUM seekers should be employed as farm labourers in Gippsland.
That’s the view of Burra Foods CEO Grant Crothers.
He said this at an industry transition expo in Morwell last week.
On Thursday evening, he explained his position to The Star this way:
“There is no question a lack of labour is holding back agriculture in Gippsland. The reality is the immigrants of the 1950s and 60s ended on farms.
“Now, we have business immigrants and (farm) labour is sitting in Villawood and on Christmas Island.
“What is the government doing?
“They’re ignoring the issue! The fight for labour is the big issue for agriculture.”
Mr Crothers said the lack of farm labour had been a problem for quite a while and construction of the Wonthaggi desalination plant had been “the icing on the cake”, with well paying jobs luring relief milkers and the like.
Mr Crothers said all three speakers from the agricultural sector on the first morning of the conference said the same thing.
Why is there a shortage?
“I don’t think people are interested in the work. It’s not the highest paid work, but it’s still gainful work. I would have thought immigration is one of the key ways to address it.”
Mr Crothers said the lack of labour is suppressing agricultural activity and the milk industry has been contracting for 10 years.
“We have turned the corner with better prices and the drought is over, but the opportunity to grow industry is increasingly challenging.”
Nevertheless he added, Burra Foods would continue to grow because “there are further opportunities there”.
Organised by the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council, the expo drew speakers from a wide range of industries to address the topic of transition.
Agribusiness Gippsland chair Alex Arbuthnot said scheduling agricultural speakers at the start of the conference underlined how important that industry was to employment and prosperity in the region.
The event was officially opened by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan.
He described it as a major milestone that would drive collaboration, innovation and future development in the Gippsland region.
Mr Arbuthnot went a step further.
“That we can have a union group and a National Party stalwart in Peter Ryan coming to the table with the same intent proves the maturity of the region’s thinking.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=3207

Posted by on Apr 11 2012. Filed under Featured, News, Rural News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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