The Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Dr Steve Thomas says the Labor Government’s release today of a Primary Industries Workers Regional Travel and Accommodation Support Scheme was a desperate and tokenistic attempt to make a substandard scheme look more palatable. 

“The Government’s response to the impending crisis in the agricultural sector has been a ridiculous advertising campaign and now they are offering a token payment,” Dr Thomas said. 

“They have successfully reinforced that they have no understanding of how agriculture works in Western Australia. 

“Their ad showing young people frolicking down the lanes in an orchard, while chatting, laughing and once in a while picking a piece of fruit is so unrealistic I can only assume the government was aiming for humour and farce in its attempt to lure young people to the regions. It is an entirely unrealistic and foolish representation of farm work that shows the Labor Government has no understanding of the industry.” 

Dr Thomas said that subsidising accommodation costs to the value of $40 a night was a token effort by Labor that would leave the agricultural sector flat and unimpressed, and was unlikely to work. 

“The Minister admits in her own media release today that there is a need to fill 7000 positions, so their $3 million package works out to just under $430 per job in subsidies for accommodation and travel,” Dr Thomas said. 

“Labor are pretty optimistic if they think that each harvest job will last less than 11 days. 

“This latest act of promotional desperation simply demonstrates the need for the Labor Government to swallow some reality and accept the help of the Commonwealth to plan for the importation of workers from COVID-safe areas, including mandatory quarantine and testing, so that producers can plan for a full and proper harvest. This has already happened in the Northern Territory, and the Commonwealth is ready and waiting to assist. 

“Paying lip service to agriculture whilst remaining under the thumb of the unions and left wing ideology will see Alannah MacTiernan and Mark McGowan overseeing crops rotting on the vine and sheep remaining unshorn.”