The Western Australian agri industry has warned the cost of fruit and vegetables could increase up to 60 per cent and food supplies could be under threat by Christmas if the state's worker shortage continues. As Western Australia remains one of the few states not re-engaging the seasonal worker and Pacific labour programs, labor shortages in the horticulture sector continue to escalate.
Vegetables WA chief executive officer John Shannon said in a typical year, about 7,000 jobs needed to be filled over this period in WA agriculture alone for harvesting, packing and processing work: "The impacts of this situation are going to be felt for years to come because growers are making decisions right now about whether to produce the same amount of crop even for the current Spring or Summer or move away from the crop types that require large amounts of labour.”
"With the challenge of getting workers on farms only worsening, a Deloitte Access Economics report indicated we are bracing for vegetable shortages and a potential price increase of some lines by up to 60 per cent."
Warren Blackwood MLA Terry Redman told busseltonmail.com.au it was time the WA Government looked at more strategic ways to engage workers in regional areas. Redman has called on the state government to invest in brokers who could help match job seekers with regional work and assist them with travel and accommodation arrangements.
"This is a job in itself and the government has a role to play," he said. "When we recently again raised this in Parliament, the Premier retorted that industry needed to help.”