Fruit Growers Seek Sensible Commitments From Political Parties
Fruit Growers Tasmania | Wednesday, 4 May 2022, 3.00pm
Fruit Growers Tasmania has released the election commitments it has sought from the parties contesting the Federal Election.
“We wrote to all Tasmanian sitting members and senators, as well as the Federal Minister for Agriculture on 19 April”, Fruit Growers Tasmania CEO Peter Cornish said.
“We are fortunate that we have the Shadow Minister for Agriculture Julie Collins in Tasmania. We appreciate the ALP’s and Julie’s support for one of our key requests – the $60 million upgrading of Hobart Airport”, Mr Cornish said.
“This upgrade would provide the certainty for fruit producers from all parts of Tasmania to invest and pursue export markets”, Mr Cornish said
“We are looking forward to the Liberal-National Coalition’s support for this project. Direct flight capacity from Hobart airport to international markets is essential for northern Tasmanian berry growers to establish new export markets”, Mr Cornish said.
Fruit Growers Tasmania is also seeking a commitment to continued export funding support.
“Over the last 3 years with the support of both the Australian and Tasmanian Governments we have been able to support exporters to continue to supply international customers when under great pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic. As our industry continues to grow, more work is required to support our world class fruit producers to establish new markets, particularly in berries”, Mr Cornish said.
Fruit Growers Tasmania is also seeking a commitment to extend the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme southbound assistance arrangements so that empty wooden apple bins become eligible for assistance, in line with other inputs to production.
“Tasmanian apple growers are at a significant cost disadvantage to their mainland counterparts when supplying key national apple packhouses in Victoria. A simple change to southbound TFES assistance would provide a more level playing field for Tasmanian apple growers at a time when they are facing significant difficulties”, Mr Cornish said.
Fruit Growers Tasmania is also seeking commitments from political parties to:
- provide $300,000 to establish an Australian Cherry Improvement Program in Tasmania to boost varietal advancement and new plant availability;
- amend legislation to allow Tasmanian bumblebees to be used for commercial pollination;
- provide $2.6 million to develop a Temperate Fruit Industry Improvement Centre in the Huon Valley; and
- provide $10 million for Tasmanian growers under the Horticultural Netting Program Trial to make up for the shortfall in funding to date.
“Tasmania exported more than 60% of the nation’s cherries this season, grows apples that store better than anywhere in the country, and is Australia’s largest producer of raspberries and blackberries. These investments by a new Federal Government will support the Tasmanian fruit industry to continue to be the fastest growing of the state’s major agricultural sectors, leading to more investment, exports and jobs”, Mr Cornish said.
Fruit Growers has also sought commitments that would support investment in worker accommodation both on farm and in regional and remote areas; capital expenditure on crop protection structures, netting and covers; and the re-introduction of support for business investment through temporary full expensing, increased instant asset write-off and accelerated depreciation to recognise the higher risks the sector faces.
Fruit Growers has also sought the introduction of an Income Bank for job seekers, as is the case for those on Youth Allowance, to encourage job seekers to participate in seasonal work.
“Our growers want to invest but the risks are high and the system does not recognise this. Our growers also want to give opportunities to more locals to work in our industry, but again the JobSeeker arrangements discourage this rather than encourage it. These sensible changes would see more investment, more growth and more jobs”, Mr Cornish said.
“It is time for all parties to make clear their policies that will affect the future of agriculture in Tasmania and across the country”.