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TAS Country : January 26th 2012
8 Tasmanian Country Friday, January 27, 2012 Opinion Farmers need level playing field TFGA matters with Jan Davis 'We're saddled with an industrial award system that is out of step with modern Australia' IT is not that long ago (relatively speaking) that people generally worked only Monday to Friday, nine to five. Banks were open only from 10am to 4pm, except on Friday when they closed at 5pm, and there were no ATMs. Shops closed at noon on Saturday and we spent the weekend in the garden or going out for drives in the countryside. Today we lead a different lifestyle. We work from home or telecom- mute, we work odd hours and weekends; some of us even work (or shop) in the middle of the night. We expect restaurants to be open when we want to eat out, super- markets to be open when we want to shop and we want to see a movie when it suits us. We read the paper online, in the doctor's surgery or in the queue at the bank. We even time-shift our TV viewing to fit in with our lives. We get tetchy if things don't work exactly the way we want them to or when we can't get what we want when we want it; and we certainly don't expect to have to pay a premium for service outside 9-5. Yet we're saddled with an indus- trial award system that is out of step with modern Australia. The Fair Work awards system defines ordinary hours of work as being Monday-Friday, 8am to 6pm. Casual staff are paid time and a half on Saturdays, time and three quarters on Sundays and double time and a half on public holidays --- on top of the normal casual loading. Then there's a minimum four- hour work block requirement. This does not reflect the reality of modern life --- and it certainly does not reflect the reality of the 21st century farm- ing business. I used to work in the mushroom industry. Yes, yes, I've heard all the lines about being kept in the dark. Mushrooms double in size every 22 hours. If you're a mush- room farmer and you have an order for button mushrooms, there is a 12-hour window of opportunity to harvest them. After 12 hours, they become cup-shaped. In another 12 hours they open up and become flats. So the mushrooms themselves determine when they should be picked --- and the pickers have to be there right then, regardless of whether it is Monday at 2pm or Sunday at 6am. We might all wish that farming is a highly controlled activity where you could plan a week or so ahead to organise rosters and harvest only in daylight hours, Monday to Friday. But that's not how it works. Everybody is entitled to earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, but the current situation goes well beyond this. Wages at these levels are far beyond the capacity of farmers to cover costs, let alone make a profit. Labour constitutes, on average, between 40 and 60 per cent of a farmer's costs. Margins are already very thin in farming; and farmers don't have the option of adding a 15 per cent surcharge for weekend prices. They don't get paid extra for produce picked outside ordinary hours of business. So no one would blame them if they chose not to harvest on weekends. But then they'd lose two days of harvest --- and two days of income. And their staff would lose two days of wages. This is not only unfair to the grower, it is unfair to those who want to work. The present award system is stopping people from working. Many of our farm workers like their jobs, and they choose to work at odd hours or in split shifts for lifestyle reasons, childcare arrange- ments etc. They know what they are getting into and that should be their choice. That's why they get a casual loading and overtime rates --- but the current situation is unsustainable. If we want Australian produce on our shelves, produce that we know is clean, safe and nutritious, then we must give Australian farmers a level playing field. We are not asking that Aust- ralians give up reasonable working conditions. We are saying that, if these conditions are important to us, then there has to be a cost. Why allow produce into this country that does not reflect the standards that we impose on our own people? Penalising the job creators is penalising all Australians -- and that is a no-win situation for everyone. Time to get serious on value of hemp INDUSTRIAL HEMP: Health benefits are well ducumented. JIM Nelson's concerns (Tasmanian Country, January 20) about growing industrial hemp dismiss the potentially enormous benefit of this plant that has served mankind for centuries. Industrial hemp was banned in the United States because it posed a threat to paper making in the timber industry, but moreover it would have been potential competition for the newly founded syn- thetic fibre and plastic in- dustries, notably DuPont. So it is highly likely once this ban came into force many growers abandoned their crops which nat- urally would run wild and out of control. As for Tricky Dicky Nix- on proposing to aerial spray the plant, with no doubt all kinds of wild excuses for doing so, I wouldn't give one iota of credibility to anything his administration proposed. During World War II hemp was grown again to provide rope for ships as the nylon variety proved useless. So this valuable plant comes and goes based purely on political expedi- ency with convenient, highly emotive drug argu- ments used effectively to demonise the plant when in fact it is is big business that is, and always has been, protected. Apart from the multi- tude of uses of the fibre (is it known Henry Ford made his early cars out of hemp fibre?) the health benefits of the seed are enormous. Anyone doubting this can always study the re- search which is well docu- mented. To give one exam- ple, I use hemp oil daily (taken orally without once achieving a ''high'') and find it is one of the highest sources of a perfect balance of omega 6 and 3. For those who are not aware, an imbalance in Western societies of these essential fatty acids is a major cause of many illnes- ses. As a 69-year-old farmer who works up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week, I know that hemp oil, as one of my daily supplements, keeps me fit. My wife, at 70, equally fit and hardworking, has had no sign of arthritis since using this product. Co-incidence? After much study which would take some pages to illus- trate, I think not. So spare me the baseless arguments --- let's get serious about growing the stuff. Frank Giles, St Marys Ban the barb wire IN the Tasmanian Country (January 5) I read with interest columist Paul Healy's article on fencing. In the article he suggests adding barbed wire above ringlock fencing to control goats and cattle. The Dairy Goat Society of Australia strongly rec- ommends against the use of barbed wire in any fencing to control dairy goats. There have been many instances of goats being spooked or chased by dogs and attempting to jump fences with barbed wire atop and having their ud- ders torn or suffering other major injuries with disas- terous consequences. Dairy goats can be re- strained with ringlock sheep or cattle fencing with two plain wires on top and electric inline or out- rigger wires added if re- quired. Steven Baldock President DGSA Tasmanian branch Ignorance rules JAN Davis' TFGA column (Hemp plan is just plain dopey, Tasmanian Country, January 13) opens with the sentence: '' I can't believe the level of ignor- ance. . ..'' ---wellIcan. When one considers the level of interest displayed by the majority whenever any form of advancement is proposed, negativism rears it's ugly head. How disappointing! Her last sentence: ''It is a no-brainer'' says it all! Just consider who it is making reference to. Dennis O'Donnell Kettering **NEW PRODUCT** MEMBERS OF TASMANIAN FARMERS & GRAZIERS ASSOCIATION RECEIVE WHOLESALE RATES ON ENTIRE PRODUCT RANGE 300 litre round trough -- special introductory price of $190.00 rrp $285.00 700 litre rectangular trough -- special price $310.00 rrp $415.00 GLOBAL POLY WATER TANKS P: 6265 2882 F: 6265 1006 www.globalpolytanks.com.au Available direct from factory. Troughs come fitted with Rojo Float Valve. Prices are inclusive of gst SPECIAL PRICES RUN UNTIL END OF FEBRUARY CONTACT JULES ON (03) 6265 2882 TO DISCUSS YOUR REQUIREMENTS AND PLACE AN ORDER!! 2065741-120127 "ProHand" - animal health, welfare and handling workshops. Thursday 9th February and Thursday 8th March Deloraine High School 10.30 am -- 3.00 pm The "Professional Handling of Pigs" -- ProHand -- a training course run over two workshops developed by Australian Pork Limited to: • Improve productivity, welfare and profitability in the pig industry • Meet new Welfare Regulation pig handling and loading competency requirements. Cost $120 includes lunch. Registration required Malcolm Cowan 0417 573 991. presents 2036518-120127 Tasmanian Island Pork Alliance Inc
January 13th 2012
February 2nd 2012