The farmers of Australia are owed an apology for the way Australian unions are smearing them internationally, and actively sabotaging their attempts to source desperately needed workers to pick crops.
The Australian Workers' Union's claims that many Australian farms have "exploitation at the core of their business models" are abhorrent and unfactual.
This view is backed by the ACTU, and both are happy to run down Australia internationally and leave farmers in the lurch.
The Morrison Government has six strategies in place to attract more workers to help pick crops, but union representatives are meeting with foreign ambassadors urging them to discourage citizens from picking Aussie fruit and veg.
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These government strategies are backed by horticulture peak body Growcom's federally funded Fair Farms program which assesses farms' labour structures via a third party and awards them accreditation as places that look after their workers.
The unions are seizing on a few rogues in the labour hire industry that have exploited workers but farmers are disgusted by stories of mistreated workers and refuse to engage dodgy labour hire companies.
There are laws in place to punish those who mistreat workers, and we continually encourage workers and farmers to report any concerns.
In today's digital age of instant information sharing, it defies belief that worker exploitation on Australian farms could happen on the scale claimed by unions.
Social media would be awash with images and horror stories, urging their countrymen not to come to Australia for farm work.
It's not glamorous work, it's dirty, hot and hard. Some of the accommodation is pretty basic and you may get roused on if you don't perform. Before the pandemic, there were 150,000 backpackers eager to work on farms and experience life in regional communities. This number dropped to 30,000 but we are seeing a gradual increase.
To the farmers upset by the actions of trade unions, I encourage you to ignore them and keep holding your heads high.
Despite the unions' best efforts to demonise you and to sabotage government attempts to alleviate worker shortages, I can say the Liberals and Nationals Government is firmly committed to ensuring you can continue making a living feeding and clothing us and the world.
- Susan McDonald is an LNP Senator.
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