Migration agreement eases labour pains

South-west farmer credits politicians for labour solution


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Garry Morrison is credited with helping address the region's dairy labour shortage.

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Hawkesdale dairy farmer Garry Morrison is credited with helping the local dairy industry gain traction with government on addressing the shortage of labour for dairy farms in the south-west.

Support: Farmer credits politicians for labour shortage breakthrough.

Support: Farmer credits politicians for labour shortage breakthrough.

But Mr Morrison, who runs the huge Allansvale dairy enterprise between Hawkesdale and Orford, says it was state and federal politicians who led the move to get a Designated Migration Area Agreement (DAMA) for the south-west.

Mr Morrison said it was federal population minister Alan Tudge who suggested a DAMA for the south-west and federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan and state member for South West Coast Roma Britnell who helped make it a reality.

The DAMA creates a pathway to permanent residency in Australia for people from overseas to work in specific industries in the Great South Coast region, such as agriculture and hospitality, making it easier for employers to fill employment gaps.

Mr Morrison said he told Mr Tudge about the big problems he had in getting enough labour to run the three Allansvale dairies where he milks about 3000 cows. 

He had to resort to using 24 backpackers last year because of the labour shortage.

Allansvale had previously used people working in Australia on 457 visas but government changes to the 457 visa program dramatically reduced that labour supply. 

Mr Morrison said most overseas backpackers were only interested in doing the 88 days of regional work that allowed them to stay another year in Australia.

“We run a business for 365 days a year but we are changing over the workforce every 90 days,” he said.

“An industry that is changing over its workforce every 90 days is an industry in a hell of a mess.”

Mr Morrison said he hoped to use the DAMA to bring out relatives of some of the Filipino workers at his dairies who were interested in working in Australia.

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