Search
Close this search box.

Labor’s PALM changes will push grocery prices up

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said food prices
were set to climb and cost-of-living pressures would get even harder for Australian families,
with Labor’s anti-farming changes to Labor’s Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM)
Scheme.
Under the new rules from this month, farmers will be forced to offer a minimum of 30 hours
per week, over four weeks, to workers from nine Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.
They will then be forced to offer 30 hours per week, every week, from July 1, 2024.
This is despite agriculture work being seasonal and weather dependent and short-term
workers already receiving an average of 42 hours per week, making the added bureaucracy
futile.
“The Nationals are deeply concerned that food prices will rise even further in 2024, at a
time when families can least afford it,” Mr Littleproud said.
Smart Berries farm manager Sally Jolly said growers are expressing growing apprehension.
“The previously indispensable connection that served as a lifeline for both growers and
employees has transformed into a discord between the government and the essential task
of providing affordable food on our tables,” Mrs Jolly said.
“The PALM Scheme ought to be employed and overseen to its maximum capacity to
guarantee that all involved parties secure the benefits of this valuable initiative. Under
Labor’s changes, it will be quite the opposite.”
Director of Quebec Citrus Australia Ainsley Emmerton said her biggest concern was the
minimum 30-hour rule.
“Horticulture needs flexibility, as we are working with unpredictable weather and market
conditions,” she said.
Industry predicts there will be a 20 per cent decrease in worker numbers from July 1, on top
of workers in the horticulture sector already reducing by 7.6 per cent from June to October
2023, when PALM changes were introduced.
Approved Employers of Australia executive officer Steve Burdette said the 30-hour rule
would be too difficult.
“Every Australian understands seasonal availability in fruit and vegetables at the
supermarket,” Mr Burdette said.
“Farmers need four weeks averaging to manage seasonality – if we go to 30 hours every
week, farmers will walk away. Contracts are being cancelled already. People now want to
reduce their reliance on PALM because the pendulum has swung too far.”
Labor has also delayed cracking down on exploitation through its National Labor Licencing
Scheme.
Mr Littleproud said Labor’s changes were clearly unworkable.
“Labor is hindering agriculture by taking away the tools farmers need to grow the nation’s
food and fibre. It shows Labor is completely out of touch with the industry.
“Labor does not understand the agriculture sector, while continuing to ignore the pleas
from other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to send workers to Australia
under the Agriculture Visa, which Labor scrapped.”
Australia’s top peak food industry bodies previously warned that agriculture required an
additional 172,000 workers, yet only around 16,000 PALM workers have come in since Labor
got into office.
“The PALM Scheme has the potential of just 42,000 workers and is now even more
unattractive for farmers to sign up to. The result will be farmers will choose to plant less and
that means families will pay more.”

News

More Media

Yelarbon’s Charlotte Baker receives the 2024 NCWQ Hon. David Littleproud Bursary

An aspiring economics student is the latest young woman to benefit from a $1000 bursary offered by Leader of The […]

The Hon David Littleproud MP – Leader of the Nationals – Address to LNP convention

Transcript Well thanks Senator Susan, it’s great to have you in our party room and a great addition. Can I […]