THREE coalition senators have moved that the Labor government be more proactive in addressing the worsening shortage of agriculture graduates and skilled workers.
Senators Fiona Nash, Chris Back and Bridget McKenzie introduced the motion that was supported by the Greens and Independent senators.
“But Labor senators bizarrely opposed the motion that seeks to reverse a worrying trend for Australia’s agricultural sector,” Senator Nash said.
In a joint media statement, the santors said Labor’s stance showed it is simply not interested in the future of agriculture.
“Research by the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture shows there are 4000 positions a year that need to be filled within the agriculture sector yet there have been less than 700 graduates annually in agriculture and related courses in recent years.
“The government must act immediately, in 2012, being the Year of the Farmer.”
Senator Back said the motion calls on the government to promote agriculture and as a career opportunity in schools, provide universities with incentives to offer agricultural science courses, and encourage industry involvement in education and training.
“There will be 1.9 billion more people to feed in Asia alone by 2050 and Australia has the capacity to provide much of this food,” he said.
“Without urgent investment in agricultural education, research and development, we will fail.
Senator McKenzie said Australia needs to substantially upskill and boost the agricultural workforce to cope with future food production and food security demands.
“The importance of a vibrant and skilled agricultural workforce will be further emphasised as our population booms, global markets expand and food production and security demands increase,” Senator McKenzie said.