Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie blames lack of overseas backpackers for $12 lettuce in Australia
Is This The REAL Reason You’re Paying $12 For Lettuce? Politician says exorbitant costs have nothing to do with flooding or high gas prices
- Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie linked $12 lettuce to foreign job shortage
- Former Agriculture Minister Suggested Farmers Just Aren’t Planting Crops
- She blamed the visa situation, even though backpacker rules were relaxed this year
Australia’s former agriculture minister has blamed a lack of backpackers abroad for Aussies paying $12 for a lettuce.
Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie told ABC’s Q&A program vegetable prices had risen as farmers were reluctant to plant crops – just weeks after farmers in Queensland and NSW cleared the second wave of flooding this year.
“Want to know why your lettuce costs $12?
‘Farmers don’t plant because they don’t have the people to bring in the crop.
“That means the price of food will go up, it’s that simple.”
A former agriculture minister has blamed a lack of foreign backpackers for Australians paying $12 for a lettuce.
Senator McKenzie, a Nationals Opposition frontbencher, linked high food prices to a lack of backpackers, although foreigners on work visas have been allowed to re-enter Australia since December 2021.
Why food prices are rising faster
Vegetable prices in the year to March increased by 6.6 percent
This was even higher than the inflation rate of 5.1 percent – itself the fastest rate since 2001
British passport holders coming to Australia have been able to apply for a three-year working holiday visa since March if they are between the ages of 18 and 35, without having to meet any specific work requirements.
But an investigation into a free trade agreement between Australia and the UK was dropped when parliament was dissolved in April ahead of the May 21 elections.
Former Liberal Commerce Secretary Dan Tehan signed an interim agreement in April 2022 that would grant 1,000 Indians between the ages of 18 and 30 with a one-year vacation visa so that they could have short-term jobs and study while on vacation.
But when Labor won May’s election, Senator McKenzie suggested the new Secretary of Commerce, Don Farrell, was lukewarm about working holiday visa programs.
“We had a visa situation, negotiated bilateral agreements with countries in the Southeast, especially the Labor Party is going to cancel that,” Senator McKenzie said.
‘Agriculture will not be able to survive.
“We have free trade agreements with mobility clauses in place with both the UK and India.”
The rise in Australian food prices has worsened since multiple floods in March and May destroyed crops in southeastern Queensland and northern NSW, with a Brisbane shopper posting on social media an image of iceberg lettuce selling for $11.99.
Growers’ lobby group AUSVEG said the flooding in Lockyer Valley southwest of Brisbane, combined with high gasoline and fertilizer prices, meant consumers would continue to pay more for fresh food through much of 2022 as other farming regions struggled. had to meet the demand.
Senator McKenzie linked high food prices to a lack of backpackers, even as foreigners with work visas have been allowed to re-enter Australia since December 2021 (pictured is a woman picking oranges in a Victorian orchard)
“It could take several weeks and months for supplies to return to levels we would normally see for this time of year,” spokesman Shaun Lindhe told the Daily Mail Australia.
“If you add that to the supply problems from the floods in Queensland, you see the results in the supermarket.”
That shortage would also explain the $12 price in supermarkets for a head of iceberg lettuce, with growers dealing with a loss of topsoil needed for crop yields.
“The floods have affected supply, there could be some shortages not just in Queensland but across the country, we’re seeing that at the moment,” said Mr Lindhe.
‘Lockyer Valley is an important winter growing area, which is where a lot of supplies come from this time of year.’
Before the second Lockyer Valley flood in May, vegetable prices rose 6.6 percent in the year to March.
That was even higher than headline inflation of 5.1 percent – itself the highest since 2001.
Inflation will now worsen, causing prices for fruit and vegetables to rise even higher in the coming months.
AUSVEG, the growers’ lobby group, said the flooding of Lockyer Valley (Laidley pictured in May) southwest of Brisbane, combined with high petrol and fertilizer prices, meant consumers would continue to pay more for fresh food through much of 2022, while other agricultural regions struggled to meet demand