Peak horticulture body, Growcom, has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that Queensland would take 3500 Syrian refugees or 30 per cent of the total intake.
Acting CEO Donna Mogg said Growcom supported the idea of resettling Syrian refugees in regional areas of Queensland as has been mooted in recent days by Senator Ian Macdonald, Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio and the Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry – however, with some reservations.
Growcom called on the government to give serious consideration to a planned program of regional resettlement, in co-operation with councils and community groups, which could provide much needed labour to fill horticultural jobs.
“It is pleasing to see Queenslanders are supportive of the idea of resettling 3,500 of the total 12,000 Syrian refugees in Queensland and that Queenslanders would embrace and care for people who are disadvantaged,” said Ms Mogg. “However, resettlement is a complex issue and without the major backing of the Australian Government and Queensland Governments with a considered program the plan is likely to fail."
“Growers would need to ensure that the workers are employed and paid under Australian standards. Certainly, the costs could be offset by the productivity of a consistent and reliable team of motivated workers living in regional areas and growers would save time and money by not having to continually recruit and train new teams.
“However, in the short term the expense could be significant in integrating the refugees into life and work in regional areas. There is not much time with the first refugees expected to arrive before Christmas.”
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