Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says there is a severe worker shortage in the country’s agriculture industry, with fears the prices of fruit and vegetables will rise as a result.
The number of backpackers working in the country has plummeted from approximately 150,000 to under 30,000, with about 2,000 a month leaving for their home countries.
About a third of those backpackers were working in agriculture, according to Mr Littleproud.
“We estimate by February we’ll be about 30,000 short – just in horticulture,” he told Sky News host Chris Smith.
“That’s just horticulture, not taking into account: fisheries, forestries or even our abbatoirs.”