Peak industry bodies have declared the first test the Queensland budget must pass, to be handed down later today by Treasurer Dick, is whether it helps Queenslanders meet their most basic needs. 

The food supply chain, from the bottom of the state to the top, from farms all the way through to food service, is experiencing a critical shortage of labour that is only expected to get worse. 

Dr Georgina Davis, Chief Executive of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, says that Queenslanders increasingly can’t expect there to be staff on hand to pour their beer or take their food order.

“The Queensland hospitality and tourism sector prides itself on its warm, relaxed yet prompt and efficient service. It’s what customers should expect,” said Dr Davis.

“Restaurants, pubs and clubs are reporting its becoming harder and harder to find workers since state border restrictions have relaxed, demand has picked up, but there’s been no return of the backpackers, international students and other visa holders who have made up a large part of their normal workforce.”

Stephen Barnard, Chief Executive at Growcom the peak body representing fruit, vegetable and nut growers in Queensland, has backed up Dr Davis saying the worker shortage has meant crops have been left unharvested in the field and growers are severely scaling back future plantings.

“Queensland supplies much of the nation’s vegetables through winter. It’s a job we take seriously, and yet we don’t have the people to get our great produce to market and on kitchen tables. It disappointing as an industry, and devastating for individual businesses” said Mr Barnard.

Both the Queensland hospitality and horticulture industries are calling on the Palaszczuk Government to today deliver through the budget greater interventions to secure the state’s labour supply.

“It’s time for Queensland to stop waiting on the Federal Government to lead and instead take its destiny into its own hands,” said Mr Barnard.

“Businesses can’t wait for everyone to be vaccinated and international borders reopened. We’ve employed every Australian willing to do the work. So in the interim we need a quarantine solution at a scale that allows for a flow of people to keep the economy running.”