Kiwis are being encouraged to cross the ditch to pick Australian fruit and vegetables and work in the tourism industry.
The federal government is launching a new advertising campaign hoping to attract New Zealanders with slogans, including “enjoy the fruits of your labour” and “pick your way to paradise”.
Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said there would usually be about 135,000 working holiday makers in Australia during this season, but as a result of COVID-19 restrictions that was down to about 52,000.
The horticulture industry warned it needs an extra 26,000 workers as soon as possible or unpicked crops will be left to rot, and the price of produce will rise.
“Kiwis, where most states have got the borders open for quarantine-free travel, there is an obvious market where we hope that young people can choose to take a gap year, and take a punt on the fact they will be able to return back to New Zealand afterwards quarantine-free,” he told ABC radio.
However, the New Zealand government is currently experiencing a shortage of fruit pickers themselves.
To combat their own labour shortage, they recently announced border exceptions to workers from the Pacific Islands who are expected to arrive next year.
The Australian government has an ongoing campaign aimed at young Australians to fill up job vacancies, promising thousands of dollars to relocate and pick crops.
However, the program has not been successful, with only a couple of hundred people taking advantage of it so far.
“Clearly we do need to encourage more to get out there and do some of these jobs,” Birmingham said.
“There are jobs available in Australia right now. Yes people may need to relocate, and it’s not easy or possible for everybody, but for some it is, and that’s why we’ve put incentives in place.”
Birmingham also said the recent news of worker exploitation does not help his campaign, urging people to speak up if they encounter illegal practices.
“If they encounter poor practice they should call it out, they should report it, and we will throw the book at people,” he said.