Hawkesdale dairy farmer Garry Morrison is credited with helping the local dairy industry gain traction with government on addressing the shortage of labour for dairy farms in the south-west.
But Mr Morrison, who runs the huge Allansvale dairy enterprise between Hawkesdale and Orford, says it was state and federal politicians who led the move to get a Designated Migration Area Agreement (DAMA) for the south-west.
Mr Morrison said it was federal population minister Alan Tudge who suggested a DAMA for the south-west and federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan and state member for South West Coast Roma Britnell who helped make it a reality.
He said while people were often quick to criticise politicians, he believed the three had done an outstanding job in getting a DAMA for the region.
The DAMA creates a pathway to possible permanent residency in Australia for people from overseas to work in specific industries in the Great South Coast region, such as agriculture and hospitality, making it easier for employers to attract workers and fill employment gaps.
The United Dairyfarmers of Victoria’s Wannon branch had lobbied government for years to find a solution to the labour shortage in the dairy industry and said it was only after Mr Morrison met with Mr Tudge that significant progress was made.
Mr Morrison said he told Mr Tudge about the big problems he had in getting enough labour to run the three Allansvale dairies where he milks about 3000 cows.
He employs 26 people to run the three dairies and had to resort to using 24 backpackers last year because of the shortage of labour.
Allansvale had previously used people working in Australia on 457 visas but government changes to the 457 visa program dramatically reduced that labour supply.
Mr Morrison said overseas backpackers were good people but were mainly interested in only doing the 88 days of regional work that allowed them to stay another year in Australia.
“You spend half your time training them and then they go,” he said.
“We run a business for 365 days a year but we are changing over the workforce every 90 days.” Mr Morrison said.
“An industry that is changing over its workforce every 90 days is an industry in a hell of a mess,” he said.
Mr Morrison said he hoped to use the DAMA to bring out some relatives of some of the Filipino workers at his dairies who had expressed interest in working in Australia.
His farms were looking for not only for dairy hands but also for managers and assistant managers, he said.