The Australian federal government is developing a nationally consistent approach to agri worker restrictions and reopening Pacific Island working visas. Many regions are expecting an above average crop, however face a serious labour shortage due to both state and international border restrictions.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has called for a common-sense and consistent approach to state border closures. He urged leaders not to ignore what he called ‘forgotten Australians’ living in border communities.
Littleproud is tasked with formulating a new code with his state counterparts to allow agricultural workers to safely cross borders, after National Cabinet agreed to work to resolve the issue on Friday. The meeting followed the decision of South Australia to ban almost all Victorians from crossing into the state.
“Out here, we feel like we're the forgotten Australians. These decisions have been made and predicated on capital cities, not on regional Australians,” Littleproud stated. “It's really distressing not only for businesses but when you see the human toll of people not being able to access medical attention because that's where they get it, from the other side of the border.”
The new code will require farmers and agricultural businesses to have a COVID-safe plan in place before they can cross state lines. Businesses will need to be able to trace their movements and have personal protective equipment at their disposal.