Subject: ABC: Timor supports Greens plan for mango pickers
Friday, October 8, 2004. 8:27pm (AEST)
Timor supports Greens plan for mango pickers
The Greens candidate for the marginal Northern Territory seat of Solomon says she has had support from East Timor's employment minister and ambassador to Australia to bring East Timorese into the Territory to pick mangoes.
The suggestion from Ilana Eldrige has received widespread support from the mango industry that faces severe labour shortages each year.
The Federal Government has not responded to the idea at this stage.
Ms Eldridge says she has also had offers of assistance from Darwin's East Timorese community to help with logistical issues like accommodation and translation.
"I think these are small issues that, that could easily be worked out," she said.
"The biggest issue is that a firm agreement is reached that the Timorese workers are payed properly and given equitable working conditions."
Plan to recruit mango pickers from East Timor
Northern Territory mango growers have backed a plan to recruit people from East Timor to work as fruit pickers.
The Greens candidate for the seat of Solomon wants temporary visas for East Timorese to ease the picker shortage.
Association president Geoff Selms says growers often struggle to get the thousands of workers needed to pick the crop.
Mr Selms says the East Timorese may find it easier to deal with the geographic location and the Top End weather than others.
"We're a long way away from where most people live, and for people to get up here it's quite difficult, and it costs them time and money to get up here.
"And then if it's only a short season they don't see it as profitable.
"And some of the backpackers who come over here are very eager, but at that time of year when we're picking mangoes, the weather gets a bit hot and steamy and it knocks them out."
This is a transcript from the ABC National Rural News that is broadcast daily to all states on ABC Regional Radio's Country Hour and in the city on ABC News Radio.
Support ETAN, make a secure financial contribution at etan.org/etan/donate.htm