Farmers and farm workers are owed an apology by the Australian Workers Union’s so-called leader, Daniel Walton for comments made in today’s The Australian.
“In an embarrassing attempt to score a cheap political point, Mr Walton used language that is insulting and which has no place in 2021,” NFF Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar said.
“Aside from the disgusting, divisive comments, Mr Dalton has also demonstrated that he is not informed about the agriculture sector or how an Agricultural Visa will operate.
“The Ag Visa, will complement not detract from the well-established Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme.
“Both the SWP and the PLS play an important role in providing large farming operations with year round labour and a helping hand to our Pacific neighbours.
“An Ag Visa will cater for small farming operations, who make up the lion’s share of Australian agriculture and who do not have the work nor the means to support workers year round.
“Its key focus will be to provide Australian farmers the workers they need to get the job done.
“Mr Dalton’s dog whistle allegations about modern slavery are shameful and are unfortunately aimed at achieving nothing more than a headline and what I’m sure he hopes is a few new members.
“Far from underpaying workers, anecdotal reports are that farmers are paying workers such as shearers, far above the award wage.
“It’s no wonder with antics like that of Mr Walton’s today, that union membership is at a historic low.
“While Mr Walton drops offensive lines to journalists to print, farmers continue to put food on supermarket shelves, support regional communities and power the nation’s challenged economy.
“Right now, farmers are facing an unprecedented worker shortage crisis and welcomed the Government’s committed to get an Ag Visa in place by 30 September,” Mr Mahar said.
The NFF has called for an Ag Visa for more than five years, as part of a solution to ensuring farmers have the future workforce they need.