The Agricultural Workforce Working Group (the Working Group) was convened by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt, for the purpose of tripartite engagement on workforce issues. The Working Group was comprised of the Australian Government, employer groups and unions.
Between its establishment in October 2022 and its final meeting in September 2023, the Working Group pursued solutions to attract, skill, protect and retain workers in agriculture and processing sectors.
Key achievements included:
- influential advocacy for fee-free TAFE courses in agriculture, the Food Supply Chain Capacity Study, and the Ag Trade Apprenticeship Project
- agreeing to principles underpinning labour hire licensing for consideration of the Commonwealth Minister of Employment and Workplace Relations
- representing the needs of the sector in key processes such as the Migration Review and the Employment White Paper.
In the final Working Group meeting on 15 September 2023, the Working Group agreed to continue tripartite engagement through an Agricultural Workforce Forum (the Forum). The first meeting of the Forum will take place in November 2023.
Communiques were published after each meeting of the Working Group. Read the Working Group communiques.
- Senator the Hon. Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
- Andrew Metcalfe AO, Secretary of Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
- Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers’ Federation.
- Michele O’Neil, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions.
- Richard Shannon, Executive Officer, NFF Horticulture Council
- Dan Walton, National Secretary, Australian Workers’ Union.
- Ann Gardiner, National Council Member, Australian Dairy Farmers.
- Tim Kennedy, National Secretary, United Workers Union.
- Patrick Hutchinson, CEO, Australian Meat Industry Council.
- Matt Journeaux, Federal Secretary, Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union.
The group was facilitated by James Flintoft, a board director and former senior executive in the Victorian Department of Agriculture, with years of experience in the public sector and development space.
Public policy specialist and former chair of the National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee of John Azarias also acted as a special advisor to the Minister on this Working Group.