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National says get foreign fruit pickers picking

Murray McCully National Party MP

20 January 2004

National says get foreign fruit pickers picking

The Minister of Immigration has the power to grant exceptions to policy to allow visiting backpackers to pick fruit, and she should do so, says National MP Murray McCully.

Mr McCully is responding to concerns raised by Nelson Pipfruit Growers representative Ian Palmer who warns that more than 5,000 fruit pickers will be needed when the apple harvest begins in mid February.

"Key figures in the horticultural sector have for weeks been flagging their concerns that this season's crops are at risk because of a shortage of fruit pickers.

"Leaving aside the soft welfare policies which make it possible for unemployed New Zealanders to shun seasonal fruit picking work, the Government now confronts a stark choice: to either relax the rules and allow visitors to pick the fruit, or watch some crops rot in the field. "Visiting backpackers are putting up the hands, ready to help. Only the Minister's inflexibility is standing in the way.

"The rules have been relaxed before and the Minister should get off her hands and move to ease the growing concern in the industry.

"The Minister has the power to allow common sense to prevail, and she should use it," says Mr McCully.


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