Industry leader not surprised

The experienced businessman, who did not want to be named, said the ‘abuse of these things has been going on for a long time’.

‘The problem is you have a group of people (allegedly providing cheap labour) then other |people can’t compete on price,’ he said.

‘You pay $25, $27 an hour and the other is getting (work done with cash) for nothing almost.

‘How can you justify it for so long?

‘It is not a surprise. It is hard to believe the Government didn’t know anything about it.’

He said without inheriting land it was difficult to start a market gardening business today.

‘You can’t start a new business; you will be bankrupt in a year or so,’ he said.

‘Because labour costs are so high you can’t compete on the world market.’

He questioned a market gardening business suddenly becoming ‘well off’.

‘Perhaps there’s the corruption of an official when a business can flourish without someone noticing something wrong,’ he said. 

He also lamented supermarket chains ‘destroying primary producing by dictating the price’ of goods.

‘Primary producers can’t get the right price,’ he said.

‘For example mini-spinach, you would usually get $2.50, $3.50 a kilogram, then you look in the supermarket it is $4 for 150 grams, $24 a kilogram, can you justify that?’