January 19, 2021

Welfare and visa boosts for picking fruit | The Canberra Times

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Unemployed young people could soon be offered extra cash incentives to help with the harvest season. Backpackers and seasonal workers picking fruit could also be able to extend their visas even further. Fruit and vegetable farmers will need an extra 26,000 workers to harvest their crops this summer. They are calling for urgent government interventions to help fill the massive workface shortfalls caused by coronavirus border closures. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has already announced a range of changes aimed at plugging the gaps. Jobseekers can earn $300 a fortnight without affecting their welfare payments. Backpackers working on farms can stay with one employer for more than six months and stay in Australia an extra year. Programs aimed at bringing in Pacific and Timorese workers to fill rural and regional job shortages have reopened. The prime minister has signalled he will do more to open the seasonal labour schemes and encourage Australians to take up regional jobs. Mr Littleproud said he was working closely with farmers on additional measures ahead of next week’s federal budget. “Farmers don’t have the luxury of sitting around waiting for workers to turn up and we don’t want fruit rotting on the vine or crops left in the field,” he told AAP on Wednesday. Australian Associated Press

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