More Pacific Island workers will be flown into New South Wales to help pick fruit. NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the 160 workers from the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu were urgently needed to help pick the state’s tomato crop. The pickers are in addition to the 350 skilled workers announced last month to help fill a labour shortage in NSW abattoirs.
But as there is still a large labor shortage in New Zealand, ACT leader David Seymour said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern “should hang her head in shame” at the news. “There are local industries crying out for a workforce they can’t find here and workers in Pacific Island countries with very little, if any, Covid-19 crying out for work. But the New Zealand Government refuses to match them up, glibly saying the RSE [Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme] workers can return when it’s safe to do so.”
The New Zealand horticulture industry is concerned billions of dollars could be at risk as Covid-19 restrictions block international workers arriving in the country. Growers are calling for the Government to open the borders to seasonal workers from low-risk countries such as Vanuatu.