Webster calls for answers from PM

MEMBER for Mallee Anne Webster is confident Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other federal government ministers have "come to the table" on Sunraysia's impending labour-hire shortage.

Dr Webster met Mr Morrison, Immigration Minister David Coleman, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie and Employment Minister Dan Tehan in Sydney to express concern over the coming season and is confident action will be taken.

Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster.

Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster.

"I made it clear to the ministers and the Prime Minister that this is a crisis heading into the harvest season and we need urgent answers," she said.

"They were really supportive about the work that needs to be done here in the Mallee and I felt very encouraged, more so than I thought I would.

"My expectation is that we should have some movement in the next sitting weeks (of parliament) that will provide some clarity.

"I'm not saying this season everything will be resolved for, clearly these things take time ... (but) it's critical that the decisions are made."

The government has resisted introducing agriculture-specific visa, with both Ms McKenzie and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack last month advocating the Pacific Seasonal Worker program, which allows workers from nine Pacific island countries to work on Australian farms, as well as working holiday visas that attract backpackers.

They also want to entice Australian workers to regional areas to work in agricultural industries.

However, Water Minister David Littleproud this week said the government had not abandoned the idea of an agriculture-specific visa.

"We're still working towards that," he said, after this week meeting farmers in northern Victoria who stressed the importance and urgency of such a measure

Growers and industry groups such at the National Farmers' Federation and Victorian Farmers Federation have long argued the current programs and visas are not sufficient to provide them with the labour they need.

"I'm still meeting with stakeholders — farmers and producers — and obviously there is great anxiety about the upcoming season," Dr Webster said

"And it's not just the labour-hire issue they are dealing with, there's the drought and water (prices) as well."

Meanwhile, Dr Webster on Thursday was again meeting Millewa farmers to discuss ongoing issues surrounding the crippling drought.

"I spoke to another minister (on Wednesday) and it was acknowledged that we need to do more for the Millewa," she said.