Young Australians should move to regional Australia and pick fruit because it is a "great Instagram moment," Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has said.
Farmers across Australia have warned that crops are set to be destroyed because labour shortages caused by the pandemic mean they can't be harvested, but the government says measures to encourage the unemployed to move to the regions will help.
The government will also allow 12-month extensions for visas for backpackers, seasonal workers and Pacific Islanders to stay in Australia and help with fruit-picking and reduce labour shortfalls.
In a speech to the Regional Australia Institute Mr McCormack said Australian farmers were looking at a bumper harvest and encouraged young Australians to move as it would be good for social media.
"If you know somebody who might be on the coast who might be lounging around with a surfboard, tell them to come to the regions," Mr McCormack said in the address.
"Tell them to bring their mobile with them, because it would be a great Instagram moment for them to get up the tree, pick some fruit, who knows they might take some friends with them, they might make new friends, they might meet the love of their life."
"It's all out there in regional Australia!"
Doubling down on the comments in a press conference, Mr McCormack said "the best form of welfare is a job" and that working on farms was well-paid.
The West Australian government advertising campaign encouraging young people in that state to take up fruit picking jobs was recently criticised for featuring images that were oerly stylised and didn't represent the challenging physical nature of the work.
The new measures set to be announced by the government in next week's budget would allow people on JobSeeker to earn up to $300 by working on a farm without experiencing a reduction in the welfare payment.
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