Home' Grower : Dec 2012 - Jan 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- December 2012/January 2013
Visa price spikes set to
reduce casual work staff APAL guarantees
APPLE and Pear Australia Ltd has questioned its own
communications efforts. A meeting between the
board and the Industry Advisory Committee in
September concluded that more focus was needed on
assisting growers with crop forecasting by providing
timely and accurate information such as crop data
and cool store levels. APAL chairman John Lawrenson
said while the company had already communicated
cool store stock levels through Infopome, its
effectiveness would be limited without consistent and
accurate data from all growers.
"With more collaboration and greater contribution
from industry we might just get it right," Mr
Jon Durham and John Lawrenson visited each of
the growing regions to discuss key issues affecting
growers. The consensus was that APAL needed to
focus more on the following key points:
• Engage more with the major retailers
• More collaboration across horticulture industry
• More consumer education around pricing and
• More work to influence government to support
Dick Smith praises
Charles' royal book
BAGGING out supermarkets has almost become a
national sport in Australia.
Even the Prince of Wales has dabbled in a spot of
'big chain bashing', according to businessman and
philanthropist Dick Smith at least.
During Prince Charles' visit to Australia last month,
Mr Smith released a statement praising his book
Harmony-A New Way of Looking at the World,
published in 2011.
"His Royal Highness is a brave person with loads
of common sense who is prepared to say it how it
is," Mr Smith said.
He said some of the quotes from the book
resonated well with him. These included:
• ...there is a need to move towards the kind of
economic thinking that promotes quality of life,
rather than simply the quantity of consumption.
• I cannot help but conclude that what was once a
harmonious relationship between farmer and
nature is fast turning into an industrial process
built on the flimsy foundations of exploitation.
• Nature feeds us, even though by the time much of
our food is packaged and arranged under bright
lights in a supermarket it is difficult to appreciate
• Supermarkets have brought us great
convenience, but I wonder if at the same time we
are losing something rather important, for
example a meaningful relationship with our food.
Mr Smith said he would distribute more than 500
copies of the book to Australian schools and
By ASHLEY WALMSLEY
GROWER groups are concerned
that an increase in the cost of a
working holiday visa could leave
farming enterprises short-staffed.
The Federal Government is spruiking a
simplified visa process for those who
want to work in Australia.
The concern stems from the release of
the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal
Outlook 2012-13 statement last month
which revealed targeted increases to a
number of visa application charges
including skilled graduates, partners,
working holiday makers and temporary
overseas workers, from January 1, 2013.
The cost of a working holidaymaker
visa will increase by 28 per cent, from
$280 to $360.
The government said the various visa
price increases would deliver a $52-mil-
lion injection to the economy.
Backpackers and travelling workers
have become the backbone of many hor-
ticulture enterprises, with growers rely-
ing on the transient flow of international
guests to pick, pack and ship crops.
The price spike could be another blow
to horticulture's workforce still hurting
from reports two years ago of rogue
'middlemen' operators in Queensland
treating backpackers poorly, and tainting
the Sunshine State's image in the
The increased cost of working holiday
visas drew immediate criticism from
"The impact of this visa price-hike will
not only discourage travellers to visit
Australia but it will also detrimentally
affect vegetable growers and other pro-
ducers around the country who rely on
the seasonal flow of workers to help on-
farm," said national marketing manager,
"Many vegetable growers rely on back-
packers with working visas to assist them
during the busiest times of year.
"Growers' labour needs fluctuate as
many vegetable products are seasonal in
"We need to look at the bigger picture
here. By increasing the cost of the visa
we may lose potential new travellers who
simply cannot afford the new costs or
have the opportunity to work elsewhere
at a lower cost to them."
Victorian Farmers Federation horticul-
ture president Sue Finger echoed
"Orchardists, citrus, winegrape and
vegetable growers' efforts to source
backpackers and other reliable har vest
labourers have been undermined by the
Federal Government's visa price hike,"
Ms Finger said.
"Horticulture faces extreme and chron-
ic labour shortages. We should be doing
everything possible to encourage season-
al workers, not making it even more
expensive for them to get here."
She said horticulture producers were
more aware than most about the global
marketplace that the industry operates
"Now we're at risk of pricing ourselves
out of the market when it comes to
attracting overseas workers," she said.
"People applying for the working holi-
day visa must have $5000 and a return
air fare in their pockets. The high
Australian dollar makes this even hard-
But Minister for Immigration and
Citizenship Chris Bowen said the gov-
ernment was making it simpler for peo-
ple to apply for a specialist temporary
work visa, pointing to the November 24
rollout of the government's Better
Regulation Ministerial Partnership:
"The government is delivering on a
pledge to simplify the application process
by halving the number of specialist tem-
porar y work visa subclasses from 17 to
eight," Mr Bowen said.
"This initiative seeks to make it easier
for people to understand and engage
with Australia's visa requirements."
Assistant Treasurer and Minister
Assisting for Deregulation David
Bradbury said the visa reform was aimed
at reducing the costs imposed on busi-
ness and the not-for-profit sector by
unnecessar y or poorly designed regula-
"Criteria across these visas have been
standardised to provide a more consis-
tent approach to requirements to reduce
unnecessary complexity for applicants
and decision makers," Mr Bradbury said.
"Employers and businesses who rely on
specialist temporary work visa holders
will be the key beneficiaries of the simpli-
fication of the visa system."
Working holidaymaker visa up 28pc
Govt expects $52m economic
Industry faces chronic labour
Backpackers and travelling workers have become the backbone of many horticulture
enterprises. More expensive visas are expected to deter their plans.
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