Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock says NSW citrus crops will be left to rot unless NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard provides citrus growers with immediate information on seasonal workers.
From midnight tonight, a new border zone will be created along the Murray river and restrictions for entry into NSW from Victoria will be tightened.
Although the agriculture industry has been defined as a critical service, seasonal workers have been expressly forbidden from crossing the border to pick fruit on farms where they have been working for weeks.
If required to self-isolate for 14 days, this fruit will rot, costing growers and the regional and national economy millions of dollars.
Mr Hancock said he has been frustrated with an inability to get an answer when seeking a solution, and with what appears to be no communication between the NSW Government and the NSW DPI.
“We urgently require Minister Hazzard to provide some answers. There is no justification to ban seasonal workers as they do not pose a greater threat than anyone else working in agriculture.
“Contrary to Minister Hazzard’s assessment, a seasonal worker is a critical worker.
“Minister Hazzard needs to heed the advice of the NSWDPI and allow a permit for seasonal workers who have been in the region for more than 14 days, are healthy and have employment so that they can go to their job and support themselves, and our communities.
“The information provided so far is vague and contradictory and we need this mess sorted before midnight to give our growers certainty.”