By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard
Last year Growcom applauded an election commitment made by the Palaszczuk Government to discount irrigation water prices for the horticulture sector by 50 percent.
This commitment amounts to an estimated $23 million spend over three years, and is the single largest investment by the Queensland Government in the horticulture sector to promote its growth and create more regional jobs.
Fruit, vegetable and nut growers who are Sunwater, Seqwater or Pioneer Valley scheme customers will be able to apply for the discount as a rebate on their first water bill for this current financial year. They can make a claim on every bill they get or wait to receive the discount as a lump sum at the end of the three years.
Promoting extra production is important, but so is ensuring we have the people in place to harvest it. Here too the Queensland Government is lending a hand.
Also last year ahead of the state election and in response to seasonal labour shortages, Treasurer Cameron Dick announced a scheme to pay workers $1500 to relocate to the regions to take up harvest roles.
The government has recently reworked the scheme and launched it again, this time branded as the #pickqldbonus.
The old scheme was only open to Queensland residents. Many more workers who are new to horticulture, including visa holders, will now be eligible for the $1500 bonus payment. It’s also now easier to meet the work requirement in terms of days on farm. There’s also now no need for workers to relocate.
Growcom is encouraging all employers to take a look at the scheme, and think about how they can use it to attract the workers they need this season.
Taken together these are two important interventions from the Queensland Government in addressing both our short term constraints and future sustainability.
These investments are underpinned by an appreciation within government that few if any industries can convert water, energy and other resources into regional wealth and jobs as well as horticulture.
For more information on the irrigation water discount and make an application, visit the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority website: https://www.qrida.qld.gov.au/program/horticulture-irrigation-pricing-rebate-scheme.
For more information on the #pickqldbonus, visit the Queensland Government website: https://www.qld.gov.au/about/pickqld/pickqld-bonus.