Andrew Hastie has met with orchardists from the Perth Hills, to hear their concerns and discuss how the government can better support West Australian fruit growers.
The growers, who came from orchards in Roleystone, Pickering Brook, Carmel and Karragullen, said that increased operating costs and plummeting prices caused by a glut of imported fruit were a major threat to WA’s fruit industry.
Mr Hastie said he understood the growers’ frustrations.
“WA growers have got it tough,” Mr Hastie said. “They have to grapple with rising overheads such as labour, electricity and transport. At the same time, the big supermarkets are dumping east coast fruit into the WA market.”
“The tragedy is that this has been a bumper year in the Hills, but because local growers can’t sell their fruit, they’re struggling to meet the cost of production.”
Mr Hastie said that growers also raised the issue of compliance, amid concerns that some eastern producers were undercutting WA prices by not paying legal wages.
“The growers I spoke with just want a fair playing field. Since our meeting, I’ve spoken with the Minister for Home Affairs and I’m confident he’s taking these concerns very seriously. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation.”
“In the meantime, the best thing all of us can do is vote with our wallets and demand local grocers stock quality, locally-grown produce.”