By Growcom CEO, David Thomson

Economists and meteorologists have a lot in common. Neither really know what’s going to happen in the future, and yet their jobs depend on it. And we depend on them too, now more than ever.

Right now we’re relying on economists to steer us through COVID-19 and the uncertainties it has created with the security of our labour supply.

Some important work is underway at state and federal levels modelling the impact of the rest of the economy recovering and changes in international travel. When the time comes we understand our options and have the policy levers ready to pull.

Added to the uncertainty has been the recent decision by the Federal Court that wasn’t widely predicted.  

The Court in Rossato v Workpac confirmed that an employee engaged as a casual can be considered a permanent employee, and entitled to leave payments retrospectively.

But there are rays of sunshine poking through.

The Federal Government appear to have an appetite for legislating our way around the decision from the Federal Court.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also recently outlined his plan to promote a strong recovery from coronavirus includes a much needed reform of Australia’s skills and industrial relations system.

And the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy, currently under development, is another opportunity to reset. A chance to properly address the agriculture sector’s need to build a skilled workforce that equips us for the future.

The Committee consulting on the Strategy, led by John Azarias, has brought a clean slate to their process. Those engaged to date have come away enthused that a holistic approach to solving our labour challenges is being taken. Too often have these reviews been too narrow in scope and piecemeal in the solutions proposed.

Growcom welcomes the Prime Minister’s plan and calls for a collaborative review of industrial relations that properly addresses farmers’ concerns. 

We need a system that gives workers the entitlements they deserve, while making it clear and easy for employers to award these entitlements. We need a system that is transparent, practical and stands up to scrutiny.

We need the skills, experience and ingenuity in our industry so we can continue to grow, employ more Australians, and generate wealth in local communities.

Growers wanting to contribute ideas to National Agriculture Workforce Strategy can do so before 3 August 2020 by visiting