Cherry picking anyone? MP’s plan for grey nomads

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Could retirees travelling around Australia be the solution to labour shortages on farms?

That’s an idea being put to the Federal Government, which is in the process of considering changes to visas to allow farmers to bring in foreign workers to help pick crops.

The idea of including retirees has been floated by Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie in the wake of a plea for help from an Adelaide Hills cherry farmer. The delicate crop needs to be hand-picked according to a tight timeframe, with 300 people required for a six-to-eight week period, Ms Sharkie told ABC radio.

She saw retirees as a possible solution.

“Known as the grey nomads, they would love to be involved in this work,” she said. “We know we have thousands of older Australians travelling through regional Australia every year,and if there was the opportunity, without losing the pension and being a pair of stable hands on farms, I think that could be a win-win situation.”

She has put the idea to Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer.

The concept could be an extension of a government trial that allows people on unemployment benefits to earn up to $5000 working on farms without losing their benefits.

The Government’s More Choices for a Longer Life package delivered in the 2018 Federal Budget included an expansion of the Pension Work Bonus from 1 July 2019, with $300 per fortnight to be excluded from the income test instead of $250.

This is in addition to the income-free threshold, which is currently $300 a fortnight (combined) for a pensioner couple.

Would you consider tailoring your travels to include some seasonal farm work?


Centrelink Q&A: How to work without losing pension

Changes in 2019 will help pensioners like Rod continue to work.

Federal Budget 2018: Pension Work Bonus limit rises $50 per fortnight

Age pensioners can earn an extra $50 per fortnight without penalty.

Centrelink Q&A: How will Tony’s work affect his pension?

Tony is in his 70s and needs to find work, but how will that affect his pension?

Written by Janelle Ward


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