VFF vice-president Emma Germano said Federal Member for Mallee Anne Webster’s comments on the Regional Agricultural Migration Program ignored issues impacting horticulturalists in her electorate.
“Dr Webster was quick to engage with industry when newly elected, and offered her assurance that she understood the situation whereby industry has become victim to red tape and poor policy decision,” Ms Germano said.
Dr Webster had said she was disappointed by the slow engagement with RAMP.
“I am asking industry to engage to ensure a sustainable and legal workforce and a successful harvest,” she said.
Since the announcement of RAMP, there have been 27 applications for the Seasonal Workers Program and no applications for the Pacific Labour Program.
The scheme is part of a $20 million investment by the Federal Government to assist the horticulture industry and would have workers from the Pacific and Timor Leste.
The Federal Department of Agriculture had recently completed a series of workshops across regional Victoria to assess the labour requirements of the horticultural industry, in which Ms Germano said an agriculture visa was of high importance.
“The government are aware of the issues impacting the sector, but continue to ignore the calls of industry and keep their head in the sand on this critical issue,” she said.
“There are many aspects of RAMP that are not fit for purpose.
“To suggest the lack of uptake betrays the growers’ calls for a workable solution is laughable.”
Ms Germano said the scheme was inadequate and there were barriers preventing its adaptation.
“It is time for the government to sit down with industry and create a tailored solution to assist with a transition to compliance.”