Respect CEO picks cauliflower for Harvest Moon to prove misconceptions wrong

 Mark Kable of Harvest Moon, Belle Binder of Left Field and Respect Aged Care CEO Jason Binder. Photo: Simon Sturzaker
Mark Kable of Harvest Moon, Belle Binder of Left Field and Respect Aged Care CEO Jason Binder. Photo: Simon Sturzaker

A business leader has swapped his office for a paddock in an effort to prove anyone can do farm work if they have a "can do" attitude.

Farmers are struggle to fill picking positions in Tasmania so an aged care CEO swapped his office for a paddock full of cauliflowers.

Respect Aged Care CEO Jason Binder was out in the heat picking cauliflowers for Harvest Moon from 7.30am on Saturday and Wednesday to prove it is not bad work and not bad pay.

"I think I am frustrated with the perception," he said. "There are people out of jobs because of COVID-19 and there is seasonal work for anyone.

"If they don't have a job why not do it. Have a crack at it and give it a go. I can't keep doing it, I just don't have the time, but if I didn't have a job I would absolutely do it. I felt really positive after being outside working."

Cauliflower pickers earn about $24 an hour and are required all year round.

Dozens of pickers still needed

Harvest Moon's Mark Kable said it their busiest period and they are having to make decisions each day to chop in paddocks because they don't have the numbers on the ground.

"We have made the call to walk away from five hectares of broccoli that won't get cut," he said.

"It is a financial hit. At the end of the day it comes back and hits our bottom line at Harvest Moon. We could take another 30-40 people tomorrow and still probably need more people next week. We are that short."

Mr Kable believes Job Seeker payments are stopping people from following through with their applications.

"We thought Job Seeker being reduced might have helped, but really it hasn't as of yet," he said. "They have turned up and they haven't lasted. We had eight people, by lunchtime we had three and the next day there was one."

The difference a can-do attitude makes

"It is always a battle trying to fill these roles and we would prefer to have locals in these roles.

"I think for the next couple of years, until international travel settles down, Australia is going to need and be heavily reliant on Pacific Islander workers."

Jason's wife, Belle, helps farmers find workers as the managing director of Left Field.

"It is just a can-do attitude, the rest can be trained, she said.

"I think there is a misconception that we get foreigners because they are cheaper, but that is just not the case at all, certainly not for us."

This story CEO swaps desk to pick cauliflowers first appeared on The Advocate.