Get a haircut - and get a (farm) job

26 May, 2014 11:26 AM
The sad thing is in my home state of Tasmania over 90 per cent of fruit pickers come from overseas

ARE you young and unemployed? Take up fruit picking in Tasmania, says Employment Minister Eric Abetz as he defended unpopular changes to Newstart that would force people under the age of 30 to wait six months before receiving any unemployment benefits.

The government is facing a tough time convincing the Parliament to support the measure, with both Labor and the Greens signalling they are opposed.

On Monday, Senator Abetz said young people who were able to work had no right to rely on their fellow Australians to subsidise them.

Instead, they should be prepared to take on any task, as he did in university when he did a bread delivery run, drove a taxi and worked on a chicken farm.

''The sad thing is in my home state of Tasmania over 90 per cent of fruit pickers come from overseas,'' he told ABC radio.

''If people can come from overseas to pick the fruit in Tasmania, one wonders why potentially young unemployed Tasmanians couldn't do the same task.''

In addition to fruit-picking, a popular income supplement for backpackers the world over, Senator Abetz said young Tasmanians could take up other seasonal jobs or work on a dairy farm.

''There is no right to demand from your fellow Australians that just because you don't want to do a bread delivery or a taxi run or a stint as a farmhand that you should therefore be able to rely on your fellow Australian to subsidise you,'' he said.

Senator Abetz, who is the government leader in the Senate, said the government would try to find "common ground" with opposition members and crossbenchers who were hostile to many of the government's budget measures.

He said it was imperative that the Parliament passed the budget.

''Everybody seeks to posture at the beginning of negotiations that might need to take place and I'll listen very carefully to all the suggestions that are made,'' he said.

''I'm sure that when confronted with the details and the fact that we are simply borrowing to pay the interest I think that most senators will acknowledge that that is unsustainable.''

Senator Abetz also took a swipe at Greens Leader Christine Milne, labelling her "two-faced" after she said Prime Minister Tony Abbott had neither the skills nor the personality to be able to negotiate with senators.

Senator Abetz said "When it comes to extreme policy positions I think everybody accepts that the Greens have the mortgage on that in our Australian parliament," he said.

''I just find it somewhat bemusing that she believes that she somehow is the negotiator and the compromiser when it is always the extreme Green way or nothing at all.

''The commentary from Senator Milne... I'll be polite and just call it somewhat two-faced.''

Meanwhile, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has rejected suggestions Labor is taking a ''wrecking approach'' to the government's budget.

Mr Bowen said on Monday that Labor would fight changes such as the co-payment as a matter of principle but won't oppose the deficit levy.

''We're not taking a wrecking approach, we are taking a case by case approach, but it is being informed by our values and principles,'' he told ABC radio.

''We'll be as constructive as we can be.''

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


26/05/2014 11:48:16 AM

I believe if these people start working they may even like it, comradery and sense of achievement are a good thing, employment offers these.
26/05/2014 1:36:42 PM

So do we have any figures on how many young people have knocked back fruit picking work when it's available?
Eveverybody get's subsidised
26/05/2014 2:38:09 PM

Hopefully the good country folk who look to your site for news also look to, (at least), the ABC, for the whole story "The stance has angered the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association's Jan Davis"
26/05/2014 3:48:46 PM

Pretty sure those comments angered just about everyone, Subsidised, that seems to be the gist of the article.. Abetz a long way from taking the pulse of the community n his portfolio!!
26/05/2014 6:24:14 PM

Very well said Abetz. My 36 year old daughter started work aged 14 while still at high school. That was in a hot kitchen at Hungry Jacks. She then worked at Country Road while at Uni. She got an excellent B.Com result and paid all her Uni fees up front. She has always been in demand as an employee mostly due to her work ethic which she learned at home and in her first job. No reason why every young person cant do similar and never hold out their hand for welfare or be out of work. I myself started work in 1965 on a farm for $10/week and keep. Was never out of work & never had welfare. Now 70.
jack tancock
26/05/2014 7:12:44 PM

Don't be so presumptuous Em. What Eric Abetz has said is music has said is music to the ears of many. Pity more of our leaders didn't have the guts to be so honest. It is about time more people started working for a living instead of voting for a living.
Bushfire Blonde
26/05/2014 7:20:00 PM

And while you are at it Senator, stop harshly taxing the back packers - are are being charged a ridiculous amount of Income Tax compared to Aussie workers.
Bushie Bill
26/05/2014 7:36:26 PM

lamby baby, you are saying that they may come to love slavery? Is your view based on the Stockholm Syndrome or do you have some other lovely philosophical approach to justify modern slavery?
27/05/2014 2:37:48 AM

Mr Abetz, Australians have yet to hear YOUR PARTY'S "jobs" plan!! When was the last time YOU looked for work ???? How the hell are young people supposed to gain employment when you lot (and Labor for that matter), keep importing these 457 visa holders en-mass?? Employers love them WHEATHER OR NOT they can speak English, because govt. pays 40% of their wages! The competition for jobs is only going to get worse when retirees are FORCED out to work, what hope do our young have?? All very well for you to say uproot and move, but people have families, and it costs M.O.N.E.Y to move you know !!
27/05/2014 5:23:58 AM

I think you misunderstood me Jack T, I agree that everyone should work - my problem with the senator is how dramatically he has oversimplified a very complex issue, while also making it sound like the Ag skills shortage is just as easily solved. As other commenters have noted here, there are other social factors at play and Mr Abetz seems to be patronising almost everyone with his comments. Labour shortages and chronic unemployment can't be solved with a populist throwaway line.
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