Katter's worker shortage solution

Worker shortage in North Queensland needs a solution

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Bob Katter is calling for the dole to be cut off for Australian citizens who refuse work offers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Bob Katter said farmers in North Queensland are struggling to find willing workers.

Bob Katter said farmers in North Queensland are struggling to find willing workers.

BOB Katter is calling for the dole to be cut off for Australian citizens who refuse work offers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kennedy MP said urgent action needed to be taken to prevent a shortage of fruit and vegetable supply over summer due to a lack of willing workers.

With new backpackers and Pacific Island workers prevented from entering Australia, or travelling in North Queensland to work, Mr Katter said the state and federal governments needed to come up with a solution.

With JobSeeker payments doubled, Mr Katter said cutting off unemployment benefits for Australians who refuse the work may be one way to lessen the shortage.

Mr Katter said the issue of not being able to get local workers had spread into other vital industries and required drastic action.

"You knowing something is going really wrong when our harvests are rotting in the field because our farmers have no pickers," Mr Katter said.

"Until two or three years ago I had never advocated for the dole to be cut off where work is offered and not taken up, but I am changing now.

"Whether it is Mackay mining contractors, farmers in Tully, or Taxi drivers in Cairns or Townsville, the complaints are coming in from everywhere and the government is left with no alternative."

Mr Katter said the federal government may also need to look into the possibility of bringing in overseas workers if Australians will not step up to the plate.

"We can get the backpackers brought in after a strict two week quarantine period, but in reality, there are a lot who won't want to come," he said.

"Either way, the government has got to move on this and it must come to grips with the disastrous failure that has been the "double-dip-dole." It has become too attractive and so people are leaving work altogether.

"The federal government has announced that it will slowly scale down Job Seeker payments, and reintroduce checks and balances on eligibility. But this will need to be monitored closely to ensure people aren't discouraged from finding work.

"The fact that Australia is already a net importer of fruit and veg, pork and seafood, no one seems to care about that. Australia already can't feed itself in the areas of fruit, vegetables, pork and seafood. And the virus means our imported foods are in jeopardy. And now our domestic farmers are in desperate need of workers to meet our domestic quota.

"The farmers are screaming... I'm certain Australia can achieve self-sufficiency but the Government needs to act fast if we want to be able to feed our nation come Christmas."

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