National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the proposed Agricultural Worker Code to be agreed upon by National Cabinet by Friday must be consistent across all state and territory borders – in principle and in practice.
“This is the last chance for the agriculture sector with respect to a workable solution to border movements.” Mr Mahar said.
“The picking season for some fruits is already underway and the grain harvest is not far off.
“Without the expedited movement of workers and equipment across borders, crops could be in jeopardy. A bitter pill to swallow for the many farmers who are looking forward to their best crop in years, following crippling drought.”
Mr Mahar welcomed state, territory and federal government commitments to the development of the Agriculture Worker Code to facilitate cross-border agricultural movements.
“The NFF applauds the resolve of National Cabinet for a nationally consistent code for cross-border agricultural movements. However, this Code must be consistent across the country, in principle and in practice.
“Any implementation delays or inconsistent application of the Code at state borders will delayagricultural movements and could have dire economic consequences for the sector and beyond.
“Bureaucratic paperwork must be backed up by real action.
“A nice glossy document will not pick or harvest crops, stock our supermarket shelves or put much needed money in the pocket of farmers and regional communities.”
“Farmers and the entire supply chain need this Code implemented as soon as possible and we need it to work – this has gone on too long. States and Commonwealth Health Departments and Premiers’ Offices need to stop stuffing around and get this done.”
Mr Mahar said the health and wellbeing of the community must be the number one priority.
“We support a risk-based health approach to the regulation of agricultural movements – ensuring the health of every Australian is paramount. What we do not support is ad-hoc approaches to border restrictions with little linkages to risk mitigation,” Mr Mahar said.
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