Thursday, June 6, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Farmers Win Fight For Employer Rights

Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox has emerged as an advocate for the agricultural sector within the region, addressing the evolving needs of Australian farmers and the underlying issues they face.
Mr Willcox has recently welcomed the Federal Government’s backflip on the ill-advised changes to the Pacific Australian Labour Mobility (PALM) Schemes mandatory work hours.
In his statement, Mr. Willcox outlines the detrimental impact of the previous policy, implemented despite warnings from various quarters including the Coalition and industry bodies.
“Last year, the Government ploughed ahead with unworkable changes to the PALM Scheme, despite numerous warnings from the Coalition and industry bodies, which put our agricultural industry and our foreign relations in jeopardy,” Mr Willcox said.
The burden of a rigid 30-hour workweek requirement posed significant challenges for farmers, whose livelihoods are intricately tied to the unpredictable nature of seasonal and weather-dependent agricultural work.
“The changes forced employers to guarantee 30 hours per week. As a farmer by trade, I know firsthand how unworkable the constraints of guaranteed work hours are,” Mr Willcox said.
“Farming is seasonal, and weather dependent, which dictates how many hours a worker will be able to work, and forcing farmers to pay each person they employ on the PALM Scheme the mandatory 30 hours, regardless of if they only worked 10, was having a detrimental effect on our hard-working farmers.
“These new changes will see these constraints relaxed, and now 120 hours can be averaged out over 4 weeks per employee, which will be much more workable.
“Our concerns were raised in Senate Estimates, in Questions in Writing to the Minister for the Pacific, and through strong media advocacy which has, thankfully, turned the tide.
“Thankfully, now the Government has backflipped but only after seeing a decline of 10.2 per cent in short-term workers and 10.4 per cent for all PALM workers in agriculture.
“These changes will come into effect from July 1, and I will continue to fight against red tape that makes things harder for our farmers and Pacific relations,” Mr Willcox said.

Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox advocates for regional farmers against the PALM Scheme. Image supplied.

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