National Senator Bridget McKenzie has revealed a new reason behind inflated lettuce prices, suggesting the Labor government has the solution at hand.
A delay in backpackers returning to Australian shores is the real reason for soaring lettuce prices, a Nationals senator has claimed.
Prices for the suddenly rare vegetable have soared past $10 in some cases as consumers grapple with the prospect of cabbage in their burgers as an alternative.
Growers would have been hit by a “perfect storm” in 2022, with an unusually frosty start to winter preceded by flooding that ravaged crops earlier in the year.
But the main reason for the shortage is the lack of backpackers returning to work on Australian shores, Senator Bridget McKenzie said.
” I am sorry; you want to know why your lettuces cost 12$? Farmers don’t plant because they don’t have the people to bring in the crop,” Senator McKenzie said on ABC’s Q&A.
“That means the price of food is going up – it’s as simple as that. »
Travelers have been slow to return to former backpacker havens, although overseas workers have been allowed back into Australia since December 2021.
Businesses in Far North Queensland are also grappling with the backlog in the return of the workforce, where 3,500 holidaymakers who were working before the pandemic have been reduced to less than 200.
Senator McKenzie said the Labor Party had been slow to accept free trade deals that included “mobility clauses” to allow more workers into the country.
“We have free trade agreements with mobility clauses negotiated both with the UK and with India,” she explained.
“They are ready to leave… so that these mobility clauses can be operational. (But) the new Trade Minister (Don Farrell) says we won’t get there before the end of the year.