Federal National Party politician Kay Hull [left] has defended the Government's new Pacific island worker scheme against attacks from Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson. Dr Nelson says there should be enough unemployed Australians willing to work. He has criticised the plan as bringing in "dirt poor Pacific islanders" to help farmers.
But Ms Hull says many fruit growers in her southern New South Wales electorate are in desperate need of pickers and would welcome the Pacific islanders. She says they have tried for many years to attract Australian workers, with little success. "There is an absolute recognition for years and years and years that there has been a labour crisis and a shortage in this electorate," she said. "None of the endeavours that have been put in place have resolved it. My growers deserve a fair go."
Ms Hull says the farmers she represents sometimes have to let fruit rot on the ground because they cannot find enough pickers. She has called on Dr Nelson to visit her electorate in southern NSW to see the dire circumstances facing farmers. "You simply cannot live in a city electorate and make these decisions," she said.
Source: Hull throws support behind Pacific workers scheme, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 21 August 2008