Calls for a royal commission into migrant farm slavery

Over the weekend, Apple & Pear Australia CEO, Philip Turnbull, warned that a labour shortage means that some of the 2021 crop may not be harvested. He noted that the number of fruit pickers being recruited by growers remains well below the estimated requirement of about 20,000 and called on the federal government to change visa rules to allow farmers easier access to migrant labour:

 The industry is urging the Morrison government to simplify and expand the ­Seasonal Worker Program, involving workers from Pacific ­Islands and East Timor, while some growers want a generous new visa ­category for such workers…

“It’s time for a seasonal worker visa, and to free up the regulation, to allow people to come from Pacific Islands for a few months to do this work” [said orchard owner Peter Hall].

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