Citrus Australia congratulates Prime Minister Morrison and looks forward to working together on water, labour hire and biosecurity
22 May 2019
Citrus Australia congratulates Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal Coalition on its victory at the Federal Election and looks forward to working together with the Government for the benefit of the successful Australian citrus industry.
Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said Government support would be crucial to help growers navigate the increasingly complex environment surrounding labour hire and water trade.
Mr Hancock said additional investment in border biosecurity, including customs officers and sniffer dogs, were necessary to protect the burgeoning citrus industry.
“The citrus industry contributed in excess of $800 million to the GDP through farm gate sales in 2018, including $480 million in citrus exports,” Mr Hancock said.
“It is a major employer in regional and rural Australia, with an estimated 25,000 people employed in citrus production, and more employed in allied businesses.”
Citrus Australia will ask the Federal Government to support a review of the river system to ensure supply for current and future horticulture development can be adequately met.
“Irrigation practices in the Australian citrus industry continue to evolve through the adoption of new technologies and citrus growers will continue to invest in water-saving efficiency measures,” Mr Hancock said.
“However, growers expect surety of supply. The system is physically unable to deliver quantities of water required in some areas.
“Therefore, we ask for a review, with forward planning and an assessment of capacity for the river system to meet current and future development.”
Citrus Australia supports compliance and metering of water use and will ask the Morrison Government to ensure all water users comply.
“We urge the Government to enforce the laws of water use to ensure growers in southern Australia are not disadvantaged.”
“People employed in the citrus industry have the right to a safe work environment and are entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” Mr Hancock said.
“We support the seasonal worker program as a core component to a stable seasonal workforce and ask for the Government’s support for an efficient national labour hire contractor registration process and system, to ensure no under payment and misuse of piece work agreements.
“We will ask the Prime Minister to review the seasonal worker program and remove the bureaucracy that has crept in to the process for hiring workers because it is deterring industry from engaging in what is otherwise an excellent solution to our labour issues.”
Mr Hancock said much of the work in the citrus industry is seasonal, physical and time critical.
“Therefore, Citrus Australia supports piece rate as a motivation for efficiency and reward, and urge the Morrison Government to ensure this continues.”
“Citrus Australia is working with growers to enact biosecurity plans on their orchards but will ask the Government to increase funding for biosecurity at our borders,” Mr Hancock said.
“Australia benefits from natural protection as an island continent; however, the increase in holiday makers and international visitors and the reported increase in imported goods has significantly increased the risk of exotic pest incursion.
“We will ask Mr Morrison to invest in more resources such as biosecurity officers and sniffer dogs to intercept illegally imported plant material before it enters Australia and costs the taxpayer to eradicate.
“The Government recently increased penalties for those who attempt to illegally import foreign materials and we will continue to work with them in our bid to see maximum penalties applied as a deterrent for this behaviour.”
Citrus Australia CEO, Nathan Hancock, is available for interview and can be contacted on 0429 772 181 or Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org