on air now

Agriculture Minister doubles down on fruit-picking backpacker solution

University students are being encouraged to take on fruit-picking jobs in place of their overseas backpacker holidays to ease the seasonal worker crisis.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told Scott Emerson farms are are heading toward a “critical juncture”, facing a serious labour shortage due to the national border closure.

Students could be the perfect demographic to fill the need, Mr Littleproud said, having greater mobility than recently unemployed workers.

“I can speak firsthand – when I was at school I used to go and pick rockmelons and potatoes in Chinchilla, and then my first job was chipping cotton.

“That has basically gone.

“Can we incentivise … those at university to go out and to travel the countryside, and pick some fruit, and go back to uni with a quid in their pocket?”

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview

Image: Getty