Home' National Farmers Federation : Annual Report 2009-2010 Full Issue Contents 56 NATIONAL FARMERS' FEDERATION ANNUAL REVIEW 2009-10
The award modernisation process, introduction
of the new laws for business, the impact of
referral of state legislation and an education
program has identi ed that any change to
regulation is always di cult, time consuming
and can result in cost of doing business.
The role of the NFF is to minimise the cost to
business, ensure there is su cient education
and to restrict the challenges.
An important step in workplace relations
reform has been the creation of one national
workplace relations system throughout the
country (with the exception of unincorporated
entities in Western Australia) through the
referral of industrial relations power by all
remaining state governments.
While the transition is proving problematic for
some, the referral of power has ensured that
we have one system in place that provides
consistency throughout the economy and
removes the uncertainty that occurred
under WorkChoices with the transitional
arrangements for unincorporated entities
covered by federal awards that was otherwise
set to expire in 2011.
The NFF played a critical role in the lobbying
e orts to ensure that the state referral
legislation was passed at the federal level to
resolve the technical jurisdictional problems
that had left a large proportion of farmers in
limbo with the potential of being pushed into
a state system that did not suit the needs of
The new modern awards that came into
e ect on 1 January 2010 have impacted
farmers in varying degrees. Signi cant work
was undertaken by the NFF to ensure the
agriculture industry maintained key provisions
in both the Pastoral and Horticulture Awards
that had been fought and won in the past
Di culties were initially experienced in both
Awards with the Pastoral Award issues resolved
with the assistance of the Australian Farmers'
Fighting Fund in securing senior counsel to act
for the NFF.
The Horticultural Award was resolved through
an application to vary being sought by the
NFF to change the provisions relating to
piecework, hours of work and overtime. The
Horticulture Award variation was assisted with
the intervention by the then-Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister for Employment and
Workplace Relations Julia Gillard, at the NFF's
Due to the success of the NFF in securing
important outcomes in both the Pastoral
Award and the Horticulture Award, most
farmers have simply been required to continue
with previous employment arrangements.
However it is acknowledged that there are
some farmers that have previously been
working in an unregulated workplace
environment or under very di erent conditions
are nding it tough to implement the new
The NFF is working to minimise those
di culties through either education or through
amendments to the new awards particularly
further transitional arrangements.
In terms of education, the NFF was successful
in securing Federal Government funding
as one of 13 organisations to provide an
education and information program of the
new Fair Work laws.
Almost 100 seminars were conducted
throughout regional Australia. The seminars
covered information relating to the new
National Employment Standards, unfair
dismissal laws, enterprise agreements and
In addition, the NFF is a partner in the Fair Work
Ombudsman's Horticultural Award Compliance
Program that is seeking to provide education
to horticulture producers about the new
laws and undertake an audit of horticulture
producers around Australia.
Workforce skills and shortages
The NFF recently identi ed that the global
nancial crisis and drought have masked a
critical workforce de cit across regional Australia.
It is predicted that recent solid rains, and the
recovery they promise along with a recovery in
the mining sector, threaten to drain the labour
pool available to agricultural employers.
The NFF has calculated that over 100,000 jobs --
80,000 for skilled labour and 22,000 entry-level
positions -- need to be lled in agriculture for
farms to return to full production.
Our consistent approach to resolving
workforce skill and labour shortages since
the development of the NFF Labour Shortage
Action Plan in 2005 (and revisited in 2008)
requires input from all levels of government
and across a wide range of issues relating to
training, education, employment participation,
infrastructure and immigration.
We have sought to identify key solutions to
resolving the workforce shortages that will face
agriculture over the next ve years through
collaborative work with Agrifood Skills Australia
and the Minerals Council of Australia.
Work that has been undertaken includes
the publication of the Australian Regional
Agriculture and Mining Skills Report and the
launch of the NFF Issues Paper: Population
Policy: Labour Pains.
The NFF is of the view that workforce skill and
capacity shortages should be considered in the
context of the current debate on population
policy. Regional businesses are crying out
for a larger workforce pool. This need must
be considered as a signi cant factor when
matching population growth with location
needs, especially in what capacities and
assessing the need to sustain the required
population in each region.
Considerable work will continue in this area
with a focus on
• Maximising participation by the local
workforce, especially where spare capacity
• Attracting and retention of a skilled
workforce sourced beyond the region
through domestic relocation; and
• Flexible and focused migration programs --
including migration options tied to regional
settlement -- on both a temporary and
permanent basis that ll the job gaps that
are not lled by Australians, or bring new
investment into regional Australia.
In terms of immigration, the NFF continues
its relationship with the Department of
Immigration and Citizenship providing an
industry liaison o cer to assist farmers with
The NFF is very aware of the problems
associated with the changes to the 457
THE significant impact of the Fair Work Act has been the predominant focus of the
National Farmers' Federation (NFF) workplace relations portfolio over the past 12 months.
Workplace Relations WITH DENITA WAWN
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