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Refugees and Centrelink beneficiaries could be forced to resolve Australia’s supply chain crisis under a new plan from a major major Australian investor.
David Williams, a financial power broker who helped bring Vegemite back into Australian ownership, says the Australian government should turn to welfare recipients and even asylum seekers to help with labor shortages in all the country.
Williams said people held in detention centers, including those living in a $109-a-night hotel in Melbourne where Novak Djokovic was detained, could be given “a life” through a system that would revive the market.
“Many farmers are in desperate need of labor to get produce (off the farm) and all options must be urgently considered ,” he said.
The Independent Food Dealers Association, which represents hundreds of suppliers across Australia, says staff shortages were having a devastating impact on businesses and rural communities were particularly vulnerable.
“We have to keep in mind that remote and indigenous communities are out there and we need to make sure we continue to get food to them,” said CEO Richard Forbes.
“It’s the big unknown right now… we have to be as as prepared as possible.”
The chairman of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, who is also the Asia Pacific chairman of Cadbury-based manufacturer Mondelez, says he would support releasing refugees to work on farms.
“I’m very happy to be having discussions with the AFGC and its members to see if there is a program that we can help sponsor or participate in that we can people into active farm work,” Darren O. Brien said.
“Whether it’s providing an income or providing a different program that really gave them a kind of meaningful engaged job from both a mental health and general perspective that provides a contribution and potentially alleviates some of the big (job) gaps that we’re seeing because they’re still We don’t really have an open market for foreign students or backpackers or others who did a lot of this casual work in the agricultural sector.
“I guess most of these people are not considered to be a security threat, so the arrangements … could be relatively simple.”
There is also a push to cut isolation periods for supply chain workers from seven to five days to help ease the pressure.
“Nobody is proposing that someone who has obviously tested positive go back to work,” O’Brien said, adding that businesses, rather than governments, need to take a bigger role in managing the pandemic.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said putting older and unemployed people to work could help feed regional and remote communities during the peak of the Omicron outbreak.
- Refugees and Centrelink recipients could be forced to solve labour crisis
- Financial powerbroker David Williams has proposed the idea to government
- Plan would see asylum seekers ‘given a life’ by working on farms