NEW England MP Barnaby Joyce believes people out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic could play a vital role in helping the country overcome an impending shearer shortage.
Travel restrictions mean more than 480 New Zealand-based shearers are unavailable to work during the upcoming Australian shearing season.
The former federal Agriculture Minister said people who've lost their jobs could help fill the void and help shear the 10 per cent of sheep that may not be shorn due to the shortage.
"One of the frustrating things is a lot of the people who should have a look at shearing, choose not to," Mr Joyce told the Leader.
"They're unemployed, but there is a lot of work out there and they should have a crack even if it is hard work.
"I know a lot of people who go shearing when times get tough, it's a pretty viable thing to do and in this case, you would be helping lend a hand to those wool producers in a tough time."
Mr Joyce said it was not just the shearing sector that was offering up employment opportunities.
"I would think that if people want a job they'd get a job, but they might not get the job they want," he said.
"No job is going to walk into your living room and drag you off the sofa, you have to decide you want to do it.
"If you want to work, I bet many shearing contractors would give you a start and give you a chance."
A training centre at Brocklehurst, north of Dubbo, recently played host to some 18 shearers keen to brush up on their skills.
The push for local shearers comes after Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said the country is facing the prospect of being without more than 400 workers for the upcoming season.
"It is absolutely a concern for us at the moment," Mr Letchford said.
"You could be looking at between five million and seven million sheep that those seasonal shearers would shear in a year.
"We've got a national flock of around 65 to 68 million sheep at the moment, so you are talking about 10 per cent of the nation's sheep that won't be shorn by the workforce we'd normally have here to do them."