Australian farmers luring Kiwi workers as trans-Tasman bubble opens

By Sally Murphy of RNZ

An Australian recruiter hopes the trans-Tasman travel bubble will help fill huge shortages of labour on Australian farms.

In November the Australian Government began offering $2000 for New Zealanders to relocate to help with the shortage of horticulture and agriculture workers.

With the quarantine-free travel bubble open, recruiters across the ditch are now stepping up their advertising campaigns - offering free airfares and good wages.

A farm in Western Australia has put the call out for an air-seeder tractor operator - offering free airfares, accommodation, food and $32.50 an hour.

Meanwhile, recruitment company Agri-Labour Australia has a variety of short- and long-term jobs available, pointing out wages are more generous in Australia.

Company managing director Casey Brown said they had been advertising to New Zealanders for a while, but people had been hesitant about travelling over without the bubble in place.

"Interest so far hasn't been that high because there wasn't a bubble. We've had a few dozen people apply from New Zealand but they were unsure if they should commit.

"Now the trans-Tasman bubble is open it will be interesting to see how many applications we receive, we are expecting a lot more," Mr Brown said.

Like New Zealand, Australia is experiencing a huge shortfall in staff in the agriculture and horticulture sectors.

Incentives to attract workers such as free accommodation, food, increased pay rates and some are even offering cash bonuses are being offered.

The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association have put up cash prizes of up to $100,000 to entice workers to get involved in its winter harvest.

Brown said farmers were keen to hire New Zealanders.

"We represent a large number of farmers across Australia and we've had plenty of conversations with them about labour and New Zealand has come up a number of times - so they're definitely keen to hire Kiwis.

"There is a huge shortfall of staff in the agriculture industry in Australia and as a result I'm glad the government has announced this bubble and hopefully we can see some New Zealand candidates come to Australia and fill that shortfall. "