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Lead By: Staff-Editor-02

NFF appeals to Fed's to bring the back backpackers

The plea comes as department officials struggle to pinpoint labour shortages this summer and almost 30,000 Australians who are stranded overseas cannot get home.

The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) has teamed up with Backpacker Youth Tourism Advisory Panel (BYTAP) to call for an urgent re-start to the Working Holiday Maker program.

The number of backpackers in Australia has halved since international borders closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year, creating a potential shortfall of more than 20,000 working holiday-makers.

In an appeal sent to about 30 federal politicians, the NFF and the advisory panel argued backpackers should be permitted to enter Australia under a COVID-safe plan to work as au pairs and harvest labourers, and to travel to boost the struggling tourism industry.

NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said backpackers typically made up 80 per cent of farm labour.

"A recent report detailed that without access to working holiday-makers, the fresh fruit and vegetable industry may suffer a $6.3 billion reduction in value and the cost of produce could increase by 60 per cent," he said.

Backpacker Youth Tourism Advisory Panel spokeswoman Wendi Aylward said backpackers contributed $3.2 billion to the economy each year.

"Each working holiday-maker brings $5,000 with them as a visa requirement & spends $10,300 during their stay," she said.

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Editorial |  :

It's no scheduling accident that both Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington are campaigning in Townsville this week.

After Jacinda's crushing victory in the NZ elections last week comes - 'The battle for Townsville' - Labor Vs Liberal in fight to the death.

Townsville is an unpredictable city with both sides struggling to get their heads around the strength of minor parties and preference flows.

Contrary to reports about the demise of Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Labor is insisting the controversial right-wing party is still very much a player.

If the LNP wins all three of Labor's marginal seats in Townsville, the Palaszczuk Government is in real danger of losing its parliamentary majority.

That puts the pressure on Labor to offset these losses with gains further south — and explains why Ms Palaszczuk has spent four of the past five days on either the Gold or Sunshine coasts.

Labor thinks it can pick up at least one seat in the south-east — Pumicestone in the Caboolture-Sunshine Coast corridor — but it also says it's in the race for Caloundra and Currumbin.

This means the statewide contest is closer than the two published polls suggest.

Both a YouGov poll published in The Courier Mail on October 5, and a Newspoll survey published in The Australian last weekend, put Labor ahead 52-48 on a two-party preferred basis.

An LNP source has questioned these findings, pointing out that both parties polled the same primary vote (37 per cent) and the flow of preferences is unclear.

The one region where the LNP has to make gains if it is to form majority government is Greater Brisbane, and this is where Labor appears to be holding its own against the Opposition.

The Premier has yet to campaign in any of Labor's three most marginal Greater Brisbane seats — Aspley, Mansfield and Redlands.

But Labor does remain under threat in Brisbane from the Greens — who are favourites to win South Brisbane off former Labor deputy premier Jackie Trad, courtesy of LNP preferences, and are in the contest for the inner-city seat of McConnel.

'A big ask'

Overall, a LNP majority government appears to be the least likely outcome — with one Opposition MP conceding it is "a big ask".

Labor is increasingly trying to capitalise on this.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said yesterday the "campaign is between us — a united majority Palaszczuk Labor government — and Deb Frecklington and all of the freaks and weirdos who she hopes to elect and govern in minority government".

"Look who Deb Frecklington is preferencing ahead of Labor — the Greens, One Nation, Clive Palmer — the only line she drew was on anti-vaxxers," Mr Miles said.

It's a curious line of attack, given that Labor itself may well be forced to talk to the Greens if it's a seat or two short of the 47 needed to form a parliamentary majority.

Surge in donations

Meanwhile, there has been a recent surge in LNP donations.

According to the Electoral Commission Queensland's database, the party attracted nearly $500,000 in gifts in donations in just five days from October 12 to 16 — Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a party fundraiser in Brisbane on October 13.

It took Labor three weeks to record a similar amount.

Since July 1, the database shows the LNP receiving more than $4 million, while Labor received $1.5 million over the same period.

Where's Clive ?

The only minor party that rivals Labor and the LNP is Clive Palmer's United Australia Party (UAP), which has now received $2.1 million since early August — most this comes from one donor, the businessman's private company Mineralogy.

But unlike the major parties, the UAP isn't expected to come close to winning any seats, despite preselecting candidates in more than 50 electorates.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has been running a series of anti-Labor advertisements around the state, with a focus in the seat of Townsville, where the party's former mayoral candidate and rugby league great Greg Dowling is standing.

UAP preferences in both Townsville and the neighbouring seat of Thuringowa could help tip the balance to the LNP.

The tropical city has less than 4 per cent of the Queensland population, but punches above its weight when it comes to political influence.

Story By | Peter McCutcheon, ABC

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