National Farmers' Federation

Agriculture supports PM’s plan for skills sector and IR changes

The National Farmers’ Federation today welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s outline of steps to promote a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and a process of reforming Australia’s skills sector and industrial relations system.
“Evidence-based reforms to the vocational education and training sector, including a rational approach to funding arrangements, are sorely needed,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.

“For a long time now agriculture has been an afterthought when it comes to the formal skills development system and the programs that support it.

“Farmers would very much welcome a framework that builds and recognises the many skills required in farm businesses,” Mr Mahar said.

The NFF has a vision for farm gate output to tally $100 billion by 2030. The 2030 Roadmap, the plan to achieve this growth, outlines an aspiration to create a clear pathway to develop the skills of new entrants to the agriculture sector.

“The goal is double the number of tertiary and vocational agriculture graduates and to increase the overall available farm workforce by 2030,” Mr Mahar said.

Mr Mahar said just as vital was a collaborative, consultative review of industrial relations.


“As a sector which is largely Award reliant, we are keenly seeking a modern award system which is equitable, functional and straightforward.

“A system which, far from depriving workers of their entitlements, enables employers to understand what those entitlements are and have no excuse for failing to honour them.

“Similarly, we need a sensible approach to casual employment now more than ever, following the bewildering Federal Court decision of Rossato v Workpac. And, as a sector with well-publicised compliance issues which we have been addressing openly and honestly, we welcome reforms which will ensure a fair workplaces.

“In the face of drought, bushfires and COVID-19, Australian farmers continue to punch above their weight in their contribution to Australia’s relative prosperity.

“In these tough times, agriculture and regional Australia, are well placed to spearhead Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

“However, the sector needs the right policy settings to achieve the required growth.

“Changes to the skills sector and industrial relations are key. We look forward to engaging further with the Prime Minister and the Government on these important reforms,” Mr Mahar said.
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