Food production is of critical importance to Australia’s economy and to its food security. The horticulture industry produces 93% of the total volume of food consumed in Australia and forms a central part of the agriculture industry which contributes $48.7 billion to GDP. It also supports an agricultural export market valued at $2.1 billion per annum.
The horticulture industry is reliant on workers to pick, pack and grade fresh produce, with the bulk of the seasonal horticulture workforce in Australia drawn from different types of temporary visa holders. However, evidence suggests that the workforce that sustains this industry is poorly regulated and managed. Despite growers attesting to labour shortages, the industry is often accused of non-compliance with labour standards, in particular for migrant workers.
This report interrogates both the extent of labour shortages in the horticulture industry for pickers, packers and graders and the level of non-compliance with labour standards. Its purpose is to comprehensively examine horticulture labour supply to develop a robust evidence base for analysing the effectiveness of existing policy arrangements and organisational practices and to identify areas for potential reform.