By Growcom CEO, David Thomson
Queensland is Australia’s leading state for horticultural production growing one-third of the nation’s produce and supplying most of Australia’s bananas, pineapples, avocados, mangoes, tomatoes and capsicums. In 2018/19 the Queensland horticulture industry is forecast to directly contribute over $3 billion toward the State’s economy.
Growcom is proud to represent our diverse industry. We work with all levels of government and industry stakeholders to shape policy and deliver services that supports our grower’s productivity.
As we head into a Federal election year, Growcom, in consultation with the Queensland Horticulture Council is busy revising our election priorities to ensure a sustainable and productive horticultural landscape for our members.
Top of our list is access to a reliable workforce and continued support of the Fair Farms Training and Certification program.
Accessing the right labour at the right time is an ongoing issue for the horticulture industry which is currently reliant on a mish-mash of visas.
Growcom continues to advocate for a dedicated agricultural visa that will genuinely address the needs of farmers as well as reforms to the Seasonal Worker Programme.
While we welcome Prime Minister Morrison’s three-point plan for addressing the horticulture industry’s workforce needs, announced in November last year, there are still conversations to be had to improve visa settings and ensure our growers have the right level of access to the labour they need.
Sadly, a common theme in 2018 was the exploitation of farm workers with a number of high-profile media reports tainting the industry as a whole.
Growcom has long held a zero-tolerance stance for worker exploitation and to tackle this issue head on has developed the Fair Farms Training and Certification program which will be officially launched this year.
Through the Fair Farms Training and Certification program, we will provide a mechanism for growers to demonstrate compliance with Fair Work laws through an independent third-party audit, with an emphasis on training. The long-term goal of the program is to build a culture of compliance in which rogue operators lose their access to the attractive market segments.
Growcom and the Queensland Horticulture Council will continue to work together to flesh out our policy positions with regards to energy, water and market access and communicate those with all sides of politics.