Tasmanian Farmers Hit Senator Abetz’s Proposal to Make State’s Orchards Dumping Ground for Unemployed Aussie Youth

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By Vittorio Hernandez | May 28, 2014 8:25 AM EST

Australian Minister Eric Abetz may have meant well when he suggested that unemployed youth pick fruit in Tasmania while waiting to be hired in their dream jobs, but the suggestion didn't sit well with Tasmanian farmers.

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) told the senator their industry is not a dumping ground for such kind of people who would face a six-month wait to get unemployment benefits under the Newstart programme of the proposed federal 2014-15 budget.

Explaining why the industry prefers to hire backpackers who are mostly migrant workers, TFGA Chief Executive Jan Davis said, quoted by The Age, "Fruit picking and vegetable picking by definition is seasonal so the thought that we would get long-term full-time positions out of it is not a realistic one."

She emphasised, "Farming is not a dumping ground for people who are not employment ready ... I haven't hear Senator Abetz or anybody else suggesting that we hogtie unemployed people and drag them down to work in coffee shops or retail."

Tasmania itself is suffering from a 17 per cent youth unemployment rate, but Davis added, "If the Government wants us to be babysitters and to run these social welfare programs we will have a conversation about what's involved in that, but it won't be as a part of commercial offering."

The point that Abetz was trying to get across was young people shouldn't be ashamed to take on manual work that doesn't pay too high instead of relying on taxpayers to provide for their needs while waiting to be hired for them dream jobs.

He even used his experience as a youth delivering bread, driving a cab and working in a chicken farm as an example, but the message was obscured by his earnest desire to defend the budget that Abetz failed to anticipate the negative impact of his suggestion.

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