Friday, 31 May 2024

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia and Resources, Senator Susan McDonald has welcomed the Federal Government’s backflip on “nonsensical” changes to the Pacific Australian Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme that caused farmers employment problems.

“Despite warnings from the Coalition and industry bodies, Labor arrogantly ploughed ahead with unworkable changes to the PALM Scheme, jeopardising farm viability and foreign relations,” she said.

“The changes forced employers to guarantee workers 30 hours per week but that completely ignored the fact that working hours on farms are dictated by seasons and weather.

“These flaws were raised by the Nationals in Senate Estimates, in Questions in Writing to the Minister for the Pacific and through strong media advocacy which has, thankfully, turned the tide. 

“After taking advice from unions instead of farm bodies, the Labor Government has backflipped but only after seeing a decline of 10.2 per cent in short-term workers and 10.4 per cent for all PALM workers in agriculture.

“From July 1 growers will now be able to offer 120 hours of work averaged over four weeks to workers employed under the PALM Scheme, a sensible decision.

“While this is good news for growers, it is deeply concerning to have Labor Ministers making major decisions against the advice of those whom the decisions most effect.

“Similar bad decisions are occurring across multiple portfolios as this government does the bidding of activists and unions, and is not acting in the best interests of our own people and businesses. We need to get Australia back on track.”