By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

Most parenting text books will tell you in order to raise well-adjusted and confident children, parents need to model consistency and predictability.

Children who don’t have these behaviours modelled can often experience anxiety and insecurity throughout their adult lives.

The same relationship exists between politicians and the public.

In order to be confident business owners need consistency and predictability from their leaders who pull policy levers that impact their enterprises.

On the flipside, a lack of consistency and predictability leads to a lack of confidence and a negative feedback loop of faltering investment, less innovation, and fewer new jobs.

While Australia agriculture has been doing its best to wrestle with disruptions caused by COVID-19, we’ve also been subject to a series of surprising signals from the Morrison Government on farm labour.  

Most recently, Immigration Minister Hawke unexpectedly decided that backpackers could now work in bars and restaurants and not just farms to earn extensions on their visas. This decision seriously undermines any guarantee many growers had of backpacker labour while the industry is in the middle of a severe worker shortage.

This followed news the Morrison Government would deliver a new agriculture harvest visa. Not because of long advocacy by industry, but because they’d dealt away the farm work requirement for British backpackers in getting the UK Free Trade Agreement over the line and needed to plug the labour gap that had left.

None of this suggests to employers in agriculture that the Australian Government is predictable, reliable, or attentive to their needs. It suggests instead our industry is not a priority.

Behaviour however can change. And there’s no time like the present.  

As part of his announcement of the new harvest visa Minister Littleproud committed to having it in place before the end of the year.

Together with the rest of the Australian horticulture industry Growcom is calling on the Morrison Government to keep this commitment and start rebuilding our confidence so we can get back to growing our businesses.