Government needs to move faster on Pacific bubble

National supports the call by Hawke’s Bay orchardists and businesses that are reliant on seasonal work to open a travel bubble with the Pacific Islands, Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“Growers and processors have good reason to be frustrated at the Government for not acting fast enough. This frustration boiled over in today’s extraordinary call for help.

“The Minister of Agriculture recently confirmed he has not prepared any papers for Cabinet this year relating to a Pacific bubble, despite calls from the sector. It’s his responsibility to advocate on behalf of horticulturalists who have seen devastating losses this season.

“Clearly Damien O'Connor is ignoring their pleas. Once again, horticulturalists will be left in a situation where any attempt to help will be too late and limited in effect.

“National has been pushing for a Pacific Island travel bubble that will not only alleviate the labour supply issues faced by the horticulture industry, but provide our Pacific neighbours with much needed economic support as well.

“The Pacific bubble will be the key to our $6 billion horticulture sector having enough RSE workers next season, which will also see substantial losses if the Government doesn’t act.

“Growers and processors need a real plan to keep the productive base of Hawke’s Bay going. They need certainty about labour supply to make business decisions. A failure to act or a mitigated response will compound these issues and lead to fewer downstream jobs and a reduced Hawke’s Bay economy.

“We’ve already seen substantial losses this season. It’s imperative that the Government acts now for next season.”