Vegetable industry says pickers being picked on by new Australian migration legislation

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th August 2012

Australia’s leading vegetable industry body AUSVEG has raised concerns regarding a draft of the Migration Amendment Bill 2012 released this week by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon. Chris Bowen MP.

“Federal Government plans to target growers under immigration reforms that are manifestly unfair,” said AUSVEG.

The government said the new laws are designed to crack down on employers who hire illegal workers.

According to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, “Illegal workers undermine the integrity of Australia’s migration program, reduce work opportunities for Australians, and expose vulnerable workers to exploitation.”

However AUSVEG said that the Australian vegetable industry relies heavily on workers sourced from overseas through labour hire companies in order to remain viable. They said the proposed Bill places undue responsibility on vegetable growers.

“These workers must adhere to strict visa conditions in order to work legally on Australian farms, however, the proposed Bill appears to place additional responsibility with vegetable growers to double check the legalities,” AUSVEG CEO Mr Mulcahy said. He added that the labour hire companies should be responsible for the legal employment of the workers that they supply.

 AUSVEG is the national peak industry body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers who are said to contribute over three billion dollars per annum to the Australian economy.