SUPPORTING OUR FARMERS
Our community's family-run, generational farming businesses have produced some of Victoria's - indeed the world's - finest fruit, vegetables, flowers and wine.
As a matter of physical importance, agribusinesses in the Yarra Valley contribute significantly to the local economy, creating jobs, competing in export markets and creating memorable tourism experiences for locals, interstate and overseas visitors.
Symbolically, agribusiness exemplifies the aspirational, self-starting and self-sufficient people of Evelyn. That is why I will always support and stand up for our farmers.
Labour Hire Authority laws
The Yarra Valley is world renowned for quality agricultural produce. Our local fruit and vegetable growers work hard to produce delicious strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, zucchinis, Brussels sprouts, grapes, tomatoes and so much more, for domestic and export markets, contributing greatly to our local economy.
However, this past year they've been under attack from the Andrews Labor Government. In the last term of Parliament, the Andrews Labor Government, unfortunately, succeeded in the upper house by only one vote to introduce a new licencing regime for labour hire companies. The new law with a hefty new licence fee, in effect, duplicated the worker protections already provided for by the Federal Government, but what it was really about was paving the way for larger unionised labour firms to gain a stronger foothold in the labour hire market.
Our local fruit and vegetable growers are heavily reliant on seasonal hired labour, sourced through trusted labour hire businesses, to ensure quality produce is picked, packed and delivered to market on time. With the new laws coming in to effect at the end of October this year, our local growers were making every effort to comply with the new laws. However, sadly, Labor's new bureaucracy, the Labour Hire Authority, was hopelessly late in setting up the framework to support the new law, and severely lagged in processing applications with a massive backlog totalling over 3,500 at the time of the compliance regime coming in to effect!
This troubled local farmers who were increasingly worried they would not be able to source 'compliant' labour at a critical time of the spring and summer season, potentially devastating their businesses. Crops do not stop growing or ripening while Daniel Andrews' bureaucrats lag behind processing applications!
In Parliament I called on the Government to address this ridiculous situation, and I was successful getting the Government to backtrack and introduce a 'grace period' to ensure Yarra Valley growers could continue using labour firms whilst applications were pending, ensuring they would not be unfairly penalised due to Labor's bungled beauracracy. See my quotes in the Upper Yarra Mail and Herald Sun articles below.
WATCH: On 17 October, 2019, I called on the Labor Government to urgently address the massive backlog of licence applications and introduce a ‘grace period’ to ensure our local farming businesses are protected from unfair penalties.