A NEW tripartite Agricultural Workforce Working Group, established during the Jobs and Skills Summit, has met for the first time today to help tackle agricultural workforce challenges.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the working group was designed to bring employer groups, unions, and government together in the spirit of collaboration to address key workforce issues.
“Agriculture is an industry with incredible opportunities, and an important source of jobs in rural, regional and remote Australia,” Minister Watt said.
“But for several years it has faced challenges in making sure that employers can get the workers they need and making sure those workers are protected and respected in the work that they undertake.”
Minister Watt said the Albanese Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit in early September brought different parties together to sign the Agricultural Workforce Tripartite Statement and agreed on a way forward to address workforce challenges impacting the Australian agriculture sector.
“To continue that spirit of collaboration this new tripartite working group will pursue solutions to better skill, attract, protect, and retain workers in the agriculture and processing sectors.
“Members of the working group have been selected to represent both employers and employees and will be tasked with consulting across the community.
“The working group will operate for the next 12 months, driving outcomes that will benefit the industry, workers, farmers, and the nation.
“The working group will make sure Australian agriculture benefits from the outcomes of the government’s Jobs and Skills Summit and will inform the forthcoming Employment White Paper.”
President of the National Farmers’ Federation Fiona Simson said agriculture needed to see a way forward, after years of workforce shortages.
“At the end of the day, if we don’t get this right, then we see farm production cut and consumers see those impacts on our shelves in supermarkets,” Ms Simson said.
“We want to attract the best and brightest to our industry, we want to make sure that we can attract Australians into our industry, and we also want to make sure that we can have visas that are fit for purpose for agriculture.
“It’s critical for us that we are an industry of choice.”
The members of the working group are:
- Senator the Hon. Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
- Andrew Metcalfe AO, Secretary of Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
- Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers’ Federation.
- Michele O’Neil, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions.
- Richard Shannon, Executive Officer, NFF Horticulture Council
- Dan Walton, National Secretary, Australian Workers’ Union.
- Ann Gardiner, National Council Member, Australian Dairy Farmers.
- Tim Kennedy, National Secretary, United Workers Union.
- Patrick Hutchinson, CEO, Australian Meat Industry Council.
- Matt Journeaux, Federal Secretary, Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union.
The group will be facilitated by James Flintoft, a board director and former senior executive in the Victorian Department of Agriculture, with years of experience in the public sector and development space.
Public policy specialist and former chair of the National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee of John Azarias will also act as a special advisor to the Minister on this working group.
Source: Murray Watt