Hort Industry Wants Workers Not Workshops
“What a slap in the face to the horticulture and viticulture sectors today’s $350,000 ‘wellbeing support package’ is as they face losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron and Immigration spokesperson James McDowall.
“These people don’t need workshops, they need workers,” says Mr Cameron.
“To get this pitiful news in a week when it’s become clear that Hawke’s Bay is short of thousands of workers and estimates its apple losses alone will run to between $100 and $200 million this year is just sickening.
“The Government doesn’t seem to understand the lifecycle of plants, having rationalised that a sector that had ‘had it good’ for a number of years could suck up one rotten harvest.
“But winter pruning is just around the corner and a substandard job along with too few workers will impact next year’s harvest too.”
Dr McDowall says it’s not just the New Zealand economy suffering needlessly but also the economies of our Pacific Island neighbours.
“Reducing the number of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme workers from the Pacific from about 15,000 to 2000 is having a terrible financial impact on the countries those workers come from.
“It’s surely beyond any of their comprehension that they can’t travel to New Zealand and earn money for their families when there’s no COVID in their countries either.
“Why the Government didn’t expand the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) when the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) identified it could be 23 facilities – or 3000 beds – larger is beyond me.
“On all levels this is financially and socially disastrous for New Zealand businesses and the workforce they rely on to be successful and employ more New Zealanders in full time jobs.
“The Government must open a quarantine free passage with Australia and increase the numbers of Pacific Island workers who can travel here so this critical sector of the New Zealand economy can flourish,” Dr McDowall says.