Calls for nationwide illegal worker amnesty as labour shortage crisis hits boiling level

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Calls for nationwide illegal worker amnesty as labour shortage crisis hits boiling level

Calls for nationwide illegal worker amnesty as labour shortage crisis hits boiling level

Western Australia’s seasonal worker shortage is at a boiling level as states face off with the Commonwealth over the perfect solution to contend with the crisis.

Key facets:

  • WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan believes an illegal worker amnesty may presumably well free up workers
  • Australian farmers are expected to be fast tens of thousands of labourers this harvest
  • WAFarmers says an amnesty is welcome but may presumably well no longer be satisfactory to contend with the looming shortage

WA’s Agriculture Minister is calling on the Federal Govt to introduce an undocumented worker amnesty intention to contend with the looming nationwide agricultural labour shortage.

Alannah MacTiernan met with heavyweights from the WA fruit and vegetable industry slack final week and committed to lobby her Federal counterparts to settle for the proposal.

The Commonwealth estimates about 86,000 illegal workers are working in Australia, though it is miles unclear how many are primarily primarily based in WA.

With thousands of workers wished internal correct a pair of weeks, Ms MacTiernan said all alternatives had to be considered.

“What we make know is that in the industry there changed into … largely Malaysian and Vietnamese workers which bask in come out right here on a host of visa classes and bask in stayed on,” she said.

“What the Federal Govt has said is that their command is these other folks are now in a single sense right here illegally in Australia and this may give them a reward [for overstaying].

“Right here is an acceptable time, I may’ve idea, to bask in that amnesty, and procure all this out in the originate so … we can guarantee they’re being smartly handled.”

Alannah MacTiernan wearing a red scarf and black top sits in a room, talking to a journalist.

Ms MacTiernan has the back of farm teams and her Victorian counterpart, but the Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is but to be convinced.(ABC Files: Preserve shut Koenig-Luck)

Victoria helps proposal

Ms MacTiernan said the basis had additionally been raised with the Commonwealth by Victorian Regional Development and Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes.

Ms MacTiernan said the proposal had been knocked back by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, but there had been now plans to position the basis to Immigration Minister Alan Tudge.

“We bask in got fair about no immigration going down in Australia, this is the one time we can procure this all sorted,” she said.

WA growers bask in steered ABC Rural that whereas an amnesty would no longer elevate the available personnel, it would back clarify questions about how many workers had been available in the utter.

A group of people standing on a street, holding banners with slogan supporting backpackers.

Manjimup locals need to taken to the streets to bid their issues about the labour shortage.(ABC South West WA: Zoe Keenan)

City takes to the streets

Farmers in the South West metropolis of Manjimup, in the meantime, bask in taken to the streets to bid their issues sooner than harvest.

The metropolis on the total attracts a total lot of backpackers to back definite trees and vines of avocadoes, passionfruit, cherries, apples and plenty of fruits and greens at height times yearly.

Nonetheless with many backpackers locked out of WA resulting from the utter’s laborious border closure, Shire of Manjimup president Paul Omodei said there had been real issues fruit may be left unpicked.

“November through to February is a actually busy interval right here,” he said.

“We’re fast of a astronomical personnel.

Fruit and vegetables on display in a grocery shop.

WA farmers wretchedness fruit and greens may be left to rot except thousands of workers can even be sourced in coming weeks.(ABC South West: Zoe Keenan)

Pretty Work ‘doesn’t know they’re there’

One producer, who wished to remain anonymous thanks to the controversy surrounding the proposal, said an amnesty would enable industry to satisfy requirements space out by the foremost supermarkets.

“To procure the foremost supermarkets we need to wander an audit and guilty sourcing guidelines,” he said.

“An amnesty would enable us to remain compliant whereas conserving the personnel.


WAFarmers chief executive Trevor Whittington said any measure that may elevate the kind of accessible workers changed into welcome.

“If its an alternate for of us to definite the decks we would hunch farmers to put off it if supplied,” Mr Whittington said.

“It is no plenty of to the Federal Govt extending visas for present working holidaymakers but the fact is that at simplest or no longer it is handiest linked for maybe a pair of hundred other folks, whereas we need thousands.”

A man in a white shirt, wearing glasses, speaks to the media in an outdoor setting.

David Littleproud has rejected the basis.(Landline)

In a observation, Mr Littleproud said the WA Govt’s resolution changed into disappointing.

“It is miles disappointing that Alannah MacTiernan would prioritise jobs for illegal workers over signing as a lot as a Nationwide Ag Workers Code, which would give WA growers more simple assignment,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Any resolution to present an amnesty for illegal workers can bask in to be performed with a nationwide security lens in mind with appropriate businesses’ input.”


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