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Farm sector supports fair and reasonable workplace rules

13 March 2015

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today released its submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Framework; giving its support to the maintenance of minimum wages.

The President of the NFF, Brent Finlay, said that although Australian minimum wages were relatively high by international standards, living costs were also high.

“We need to preserve the fairness that matters so much to Australians, while also encouraging job creation,” Mr Finlay said.

“Farms, as workplaces, are governed by the realities of seasons, animals and crops. They don’t fit comfortably into standard rules designed for nine-to-five operations.

”A three-hour minimum engagement rule, for instance, might be fine in some workplaces – but not on dairy farms, where for many farms the average time for milking is closer to two hours.

“Milking has to be done twice a day. Not many farmers can afford to pay six hours’ wages for four hours’ work.

“Farmers often end up doing work like this themselves – not only on dairy farms, but across the agricultural sector.

“They get exhausted; their family life suffers; and local people don’t get the opportunity for much-needed work and pay.

“Rural life and work are not the same as city life and work. The NFF wants to see a recognition of the realities of farm work and an opening up of job opportunities for people in rural and regional Australia.

“There is a great future for Australian agriculture, and we want all Australians to share in it.”

The NFF submission calls for changes to the current workplace relations framework to improve efficiency, while retaining fair pay and conditions for employees.

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