Transport crisis looms for harvest workers

Worker transport urgently needed in time for harvest

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Government open to ideas for seasonal worker transport

As D-Day approaches for growers anxious to harvest their crops, Tasmanian councils are looking to the state government for help to get workers to workplaces.

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Latrobe economic development committee chair Vonette Mead said transporting workers to Tasmanian orchards and farms was a huge challenge.

"Our region is full of growers that need labour to harvest. There's a big void of about 4000 workers this year.

"That industry is enormous for our region, and we need our industry to be successful; no time more so than now."

She said the region needed to give growers the confidence there would be workers for the harvest.

"We don't have a lot of time. It's urgent, there's no time to lag.

NO TIME TO LAG: Latrobe councillor Vonette Mead says the need to transport workers to harvesting jobs is now urgent, as there's a 'big void' to fill. Picture: Simon Sturzaker

NO TIME TO LAG: Latrobe councillor Vonette Mead says the need to transport workers to harvesting jobs is now urgent, as there's a 'big void' to fill. Picture: Simon Sturzaker

"Getting the backpackers and the Pacific Island workers into the country is an enormous challenge, then filling the void with our local work force.

"It has to be multi-pronged approach."

She said the council was trying to work with the state government to find if there were initiatives to help those who couldn't transport themselves.

"From my perspective, that's something we really need to look at."

She said the council had drafted a letter to the government, asking for help and showing the council's commitment to finding solutions.

Latrobe Mayor Peter Freshney said it was a basic issue.

"Workers need to access public transport to get to where the work is. It's pretty fundamental."

Cradle Coast Authority CEO Daryl Connelly said many potential workers didn't have a driver's licence or access to reliable transport.

"Solutions have been designed to address these issues in other parts of Australia.

"Our regional economic development steering group has had discussions with an organisation looking to provide shuttle buses and driver training."

The CCA website lists the jobs transport independence project as one of its regionally important projects.

A spokesperson for the State Growth Department said they were interested in seeing potential solutions.

"We look forward to receiving any constructive proposals put forward to improve transport and access to jobs.

"We always endeavour to work with local governments, private organisations and local businesses to facilitate effective transport options where possible and appropriate."

The story Transport crisis looms for harvest workers first appeared on The Advocate.

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