We are being repeatedly reminded by various industries that we are facing a drastic shortage of labour, particularly for fruit and vegetable picking.
This is particularly relevant to the Bay of Plenty areas.
The only solution so far proposed by affected parties is that our Covid restrictions should be eased, or even waived, to permit casual overseas labour to fill the gap, which previously has been the answer. Other than the "Covid' solution there has been a complete and disgraceful dearth of alternative ideas.
So, let us give some serious consideration to a solution to ease the shortage.
Our current prison population across the country is more than 9000 and more than 60 per cent of inmates are under the age of 40 and some 55 per cent are of minimum or low classification.
This potential labour pool, with proper planning and supervision, could be a win-win option to fix the labour shortage. I believe that many of the inmates in the categories mentioned would welcome the chance to make in a real way a fresh start to their lives.
Any prisoners engaged must volunteer for the work (not be compelled) and be paid the proper going rate for the job.
Such a scheme requires a strong positive attitude from employers, prison staff and politicians to get serious about sorting out the details. The scheme can work: Covid-19 requires innovative ideas and we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Bay of Plenty
Jim Adams says in his letter of November 17, "...if you own a house then live in it or sell it."
What do the tenants do for accommodation then when the house is sold?
Treating houses as commodities is not the single cause of the housing shortage - there are several factors.
Houses are commodities. Shortage is due to the cost of building. Consents and building materials are the expensive items.
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