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The Fruits Of Labour

The Fruits Of Labour

Tuesday 20 Jan 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today slammed the Government's irresponsible attitude toward New Zealand fruit-growers, and said that any waste of crops and profits could be laid firmly at Labour's door.

"By banning overseas visitors from fruit-picking, and refusing to require that the unemployed take these jobs, Labour is placing the industry in a dangerous situation," Dr Newman said.

"Growers are anticipating that they will need 35,000 pickers within the next few weeks. Pickers can earn up to $1,000 a week if they work hard. But, despite New Zealand having almost 150,000 people registered unemployed - more than three times the number needed to ensure crops do not go to waste - Labour will not compel them to take on this work.

"This raises serious questions about Labour's ability to run the country. When the unemployed - who are able-bodied and capable of work - refuse to take on fruit-picking jobs, then growers should be able to look elsewhere for workers.

"Yet Immigration Minister Leanne Dalziel has refused to approve a Limited Purposes Visa-type scheme, to allow overseas workers and tourists to take on horticultural work. Instead, she has sanctioned increased penalties on desperate growers, who give jobs to willing workers who do not have permits.

"I am calling on the Labour Government to stop punishing fruit-growers, and to approve a Limited Purposes Visa - so that tourists to this country, who want to help gather and harvest, are able to do so. Just because Labour is too soft to make people work, does not mean that growers should have to pay," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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