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Labor Puts Tasmania’s Best Fruit Forward

Fruit Growers Tasmania | Thursday, 14 March 2024, 4.00pm

Fruit Growers Tasmania has welcomed Tasmanian Labor’s Putting Farmers First Plan, and its commitment to supporting Tasmania’s iconic fruit industry.

“We appreciate the comprehensive commitments to support our growers and the work our organisation does to strengthen the viability, stability and confidence of the fruit industry here in Tasmania,” Fruit Growers CEO Peter Cornish said.

“Labor clearly show they are listening. The majority of the requests we put to the major parties have been addressed in Labor’s Plan.”

In the Plan, Labor has committed to invest $1.85 million in Fruit Growers Tasmania to undertake a Business Risk Improvement Program, promote Tasmanian fruit in key industries interstate and overseas, support fruit industry development and facilitate trade for exporters and growers seeking to export.

“We’re delighted the Labor party recognise that the Tasmanian fruit industry needs, and absolutely deserves, a four year $800,000 promotions budget which we can use to benefit all our growers and market our fruit to the world. It will ensure we can put our best fruit forward!” Mr Cornish said.

This funding of promotion goes hand in hand with the four year commitment to support a trade officer for the industry.

The package also includes supporting an agricultural trade mission to Indonesia and Taiwan within the first year of the government.

The final part of the $1.85 million package is the funding of $500,000 over two years for a business risk improvement program to assist growers with the purchase of orchard rain covers and netting, something Fruit Growers Tasmania hopes the Federal Government will match.

Another key area is the commitment to an additional $3 million to strengthen biosecurity and to renew Fruit Growers Tasmania’s priority agricultural pest and disease funding for a further four years.

“Labor clearly recognises how essential strong biosecurity is to underpin the Tasmanian brand and maintain our preferential access to interstate and international markets. This investment not only benefits dependent industries like fruit, but also underpins the Tasmanian environment and our way of life,” Mr Cornish said.

Other Labor commitments welcomed by Fruit Growers Tasmania include: $3 million to strengthen industry partnerships; a cut and cap on electricity prices and the reintroduction of the rebate scheme for contracted customers; investing in the Greater South-East Irrigation Scheme; removal of red tape for on-farm housing for workers; fully funding Safe Farming Tasmania and a commitment to review the Tasmanian Workers Compensation Legislation.

A key request that Fruit Growers Tasmania is keen to discuss further with Labor is a commitment regarding aligning payroll tax for regional Tasmanian agricultural employers with key competitors in regional Victoria.

Mr Cornish concluded, “Our fruit growers currently employ 10,000 people each year, they need to be competitive if they are to remain profitable and continue to provide employment opportunities and support for our local communities.

“Currently there is a 4.9 per cent difference in the rate of payroll tax being paid between regional Tasmanian agricultural employers and those in regional Victoria. Most of our fruit industry’s biggest employers are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more than their competitors in regional Victoria, the playing field needs to be levelled.”

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