ABGC directors held their quarterly Board meeting last week. North Queensland-based directors converged at Lakeland for the two-day conference, while interstate directors and senior Brisbane-based staff joined via video link.
Some of the key issues of discussion included;
Directors discussed key industry priorities for Queensland banana growers in the lead up to the State election in October, 2020.
In coming weeks, the ABGC will be seeking commitments from key political parties to address areas of most concern for industry, including worker shortages, front line staff for TR4, feral pig control funding and regulating new crop development.
ABGC is continuing to lobby government to address critical industry employee shortages.
We have urgently requested the Queensland government commit to restarting the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme to help banana farms fill their worker shortage gaps.
The industry’s predicted workforce shortages became even more critical after the repatriation of the first group of ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers earlier this month. Approved Employers of the Seasonal Worker Program were caught unaware, with no notice given by the Vanuatu Government to help get seasonal workers home or time to arrange replacement workers. This has left some farms short of staff to pick and pack fruit.
The ABGC is working with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), as part of a working group to examine options to restart the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme.
The ABGC urges all farm employers and harvest job seekers, who haven’t already done so, to register now with Harvest Trail https://jobsearch.gov.au/harvest and to let ABGC know about your worker shortage concerns
If you have any further concerns or queries, please contact Leanne Erakovic, ABGC Executive Officer, on 07 3278 4786 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Feral pig control
ABGC Deputy Chair Leon Collins again raised concerns over the future funding of feral pig eradication in the Tully Valley, to continue to help reduce the spread of TR4.
Since a comprehensive control program began in mid-2017, the banana industry has eradicated more than 5620 feral pigs (more than 2600 through aerial shooting).
Given the recent addition of a fifth confirmed case of TR4 in the Tully Valley, it was also agreed that the program should continue to focus on this high risk area, as the main priority zone.
TR4 management transition
ABGC directors discussed the TR4 Biosecurity Program’s transition to industry management. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by ABGC and DAF on 30 June was mainly about the future funding and delivery of the Panama TR4 Program.
Directors discussed what was needed to begin the transition in nine month’s time so that the Program was solely industry-led and funded from July 2023.