‘We need to get a crack on’: Veronica Papacosta on the labour crisis


Key food industry associations have joined forces and are warning Australians to expect empty supermarket shelves and higher prices this summer unless the crippling labour shortage across the industry is remedied.

The ‘Food Supply Chain Alliance’ is made up of peak bodies in Australia’s farmers’, grocers’, meat, seafood and hospitality industries.

The mega-alliance maintains that there are 172,000 roles that need to be immediately filled across the food sector – from fruit pickers to drivers and front-of-house staff.

The Seafood Industry Association (SIA) has proposed to the Albanese government to ease the process for the issuing of temporary six-month visas, therefore permitting more foreign workers with “highly specialised skills, knowledge or experience” entry into Australia.

Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald, SIA chief Veronica Papacosta said the federal government appears willing to respond to the labour crisis, however, there was still too much red tape, with a backlog of some 950,000 visa applications yet to be processed.

Seafood Industry Australia CEO Veronica Papacosta (L).

“There is a short-term need. We need some instant results,” Papacosta said.

“We are feeling heard, we just need to get a crack on.”

The Alliance is also urging the federal government adopt a long-term national food supply chain strategy for longevity.

“We don’t want people to stay for three months. We want them to stay for the rest of their lives,” Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive, Patrick Hutchinson, said.

“We really need to be having a fair dinkum, full-tilt program, not just a visa.”

The alliance fears that a failure to act will threaten Australia’s food security, causing disruptions, shortages and increases in food prices that will only be exacerbated by inevitable natural disasters.

SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald

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