If you’re looking to slash your HECS debt by a large chunk, it looks like picking fruit may just be the answer coming your way.
The Northern Territory Farmers’ Association says they would like the Federal Government to give students a HECS discount if they’re willing to get their hands dirty and do some farm work.
NT Farmers Chief Executive Paul Burke says that in a time of labour shortages for agricultural industries, finding creative ways to address the issues that plague farmers may be extremely beneficial.
“So similar to how backpackers can work in regional Australia for 88 days to extend their visas, we think there’s potential for uni students to get a wage and a discount off their HECS debt if they go and work in a region,” he said to the ABC.
“Uni students get a reasonable amount of holidays each year, but we need an incentive to bring our best and brightest into the regions during times when we need people to help with picking, packing and processing.
“We feel that incentive could be in the form of a reduced HECS debt.”
Honestly, if this plan goes through, call me Farmer Joe cause I’m THERE.
The idea was brought up in the Senate last week by NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, who passed a motion calling on Scott Morrison to “urgently act to come up with creative and innovative solutions to support farmers facing this seasonal worker crisis.”
“NT Farmers CEO Paul Burke’s suggestion of getting Year 12 students who go into gap year overseas, to now be encouraged to go on farms, is a good initiative,” she said.
Although there had been some suggestion fruit farmers could earn $3k per week, former fruit pickers told P.TV the reality was nothing of the sort.
“Australians don’t do this job now because it’s just so shit; backpackers only do this job because we want to stay in the country,” former blueberry picker Elyse Rinzema said.
“If you got $3,000 a week, then this job would be bearable.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has said students could play a big role in harvesting crops and the government is looking at a range of incentives, although no mention yet of the sweet, sweet HECS plan from him.
“We’re going to see a lot of Year 12 students finish in a couple of months and they’re not going to have the opportunity to go backpack around the world, there may be an opportunity to backpack around the country and make a quid while they’re doing it,” he said.
Ag Minister say school leavers and students on uni holidays could help address an expected worker shortage on Australian farms this harvest. pic.twitter.com/H8mCtAwh1U
— Kath Sullivan (@KathSully) September 9, 2020
Now time to watch YouTube tutorials on how to be the best farm-hand this side of the Red Rooster line.