Both Australian government and opposition MPs are backing a proposal to have refugees fill vital fruit and vegetable picking jobs left behind by backpackers, who are locked out of the country.
There are tens of thousands fewer backpackers in Australia this year than normal, which has left Australia's fruit and vegetable stock at risk.
Labor's Julian Hill, The Nationals' Damian Drum and Liberal John Alexander, who are all on a parliamentary committee trying to find solutions, said there was some merit in a proposal put forward by the Refugee Council of Australia to offer the 17,000 people in Australia on two classes of refugee visas an easier path to residency in exchange for helping out.
Minister takes 'hardass' approach to labour shortage
However, Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker claims he has taken a ‘’hardass’’ approach to concerns the government isn’t doing enough to bring overseas workers into New Zealand to fill labour shortage gaps during Covid-19.
Parker was questioned on the labor issue, being told it was a major concern of business that not enough was being done to bring skilled overseas people into the country during Covid. Parker responded: ‘’I am a hardass there. Compete for labour. That’s my first and strongest message.’’
He said the government would “probably not’’ get lots of workers through the border for seasonal and other work this year, given overseas experience had shown it was very hard not to have holes in border systems during Covid.