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Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Page: 2506


Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (13:40): Recently, I met with Jim Mehmet, the owner-operator of Southern Cross Orchards. Southern Cross Orchards is a stone fruit growing business, which encompasses 500 acres of stone fruit across 10 properties in the Goulburn Valley. Jim raised the issue of the lack of labour available to harvest their crops. Last year, this problem led to them leaving about 100 tonnes of fruit on the trees, simply because they didn't have the labour force needed to take those crops off.

The Victorian State Labor Government has introduced a labour hire law which means that every labour hire company will need to be registered and every farmer that employs directly will also have to be registered. This has the capacity to take even more of the workforce that is available away from the employers that need them to get the crops off. This has been done under the guise of somehow or other trying to stop the exploitation of workers. What will really happen is that, because of the effect on thousands of people who are currently working in the fruit industries around the Goulburn Valley, up into the southern Riverina and over towards Sunraysia, some of our highest value commodities are going to have fruit left on the trees, simply because the Labor Party in Victoria doesn't understand what it is doing to the workforce that is being used to get these crops off for our farmers.