Tongans true blue
EMERALD’S 2PH Farms has been praised as a shining example of the Pacific Islander Seasonal Workers scheme.
In a speech to parliament, Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd identified 2PH as evidence of why the scheme should be extended beyond its June 30, 2012 trial period.
“I have seen the scheme working effectively on the orchard employing the Pacific Islanders to assist with the seasonal harvests and have found them to be keen, happy and efficient workers in an industry where Australian workers are very hard to find,” he said.
“These workers pay their taxes in Australia, they benefit, we benefit, the growers benefit and their home countries benefit, so I would like to see the scheme continue beyond the projected pilot period.”
2PH owner Craig Pressler said it was difficult to find Australian workers for seasonal fruit harvest work, and by law, he was required to offer positions to Australians first.
The positions at 2PH not filled by Australians are taken by an army of willing backpackers from across the globe and a proud contingent of Tongans through the scheme.
The farm employs 79 Tongans supported by another 120-strong workforce of Australians, New Zealanders, European backpackers, Americans, Koreans and Taiwanese.
“It’s a real United Nations we’ve got going here,” Mr Pressler said.
He said without the Tongans the farm would struggle to cope with a good harvest.
“Personally I think they are very good characters - they value their work and they value the product. They treat it as a great opportunity, as though it is a hand-up, not a hand-out,” Mr Pressler said.
“On the other side, there is a whole lot that we as Australians can learn from their culture and character. They are happy, they get along with each other, work hard and treat each other with respect - they have a strength in character and spirit that is great to see and be around.”