With Parliament resumed, APAL’s Head of Advocacy and Government Relations Jeremy Griffith spent some time in Canberra meeting with local members for several of the industry’s growing regions to discuss advocacy objectives.
Those met with include Dr Mike Kelly of Eden Monaro, which includes Batlow, Nola Marina of Forrest, which includes Manjimup and Donnybrook in WA, Andrew Gee of Calare, which includes Orange, Damian Drum of Nicholls with includes the Goulburn Valley, and the Senior Advisor to the Federal Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie.
The first topic covered was a possible expansion of existing work Visas. This would involve expanding the current Seasonal Worker Program and the Working Holiday Maker Programme (Visa 462), as well as investing in worker accommodation in key growing areas. Changes would also aim to make Fair Farms the standard to ensure retailers only purchase from growers who are doing the right thing and that the industry is on a level playing field.
Talks also covered APAL’s proposed National Netting Program, which would involve establishing a national program, introduce accelerated depreciation for netting, improve the ease and accessibility of low-interest loans (via the Rural Investment Corporation), and ensure the Future Drought Fund (or similar) is accessible to the horticulture industry.
Other topics included the market access for apples and pears into China (specifically, extending access to mainland apples and prioritising pears for access compared to other pending produce), proper Biosecurity review measures in regard to US apple imports, and protecting growers interests when it comes to water requirements.
“It’s important to move our advocacy objectives forward,” said Jeremy. “Ag Visas, a National Netting program, market access to China, and water are the key issues facing the industry.”
“It’s important to keep apples and pears front of mind in Canberra.”
With Parliament in session, APAL will continue to obtain audiences with MPs and government bodies to represent growers at the highest level.