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Australian fruit farmers urge states to stick to border re-opening plan ahead of harvest

Industries that rely on moving fruit pickers from state to state are concerned about getting borders to open. Currently, under the national plan, lockdowns and border-related travel restrictions are expected to only be enforced in extreme situations once Covid-19 vaccinations hit 80 per cent.

However, states such as Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland have flagged they may hold off opening their borders until higher vaccination rates are achieved.

This is a cause for concern for Sean Hallahan, chief executive of fruit and vegetable grower Costa Group, which relies on moving workers around the country to pick produce at its multiple farm locations. He told several media outlets that, while the company was currently managing, a lack of clarity made planning for the season difficult.

“We are managing through it, but it would be better if there were clearer guidelines to be quite honest,” he told watoday.com.au. “We’d like to move our workers down from northern New South Wales into Tasmania, but it’s hard to get a clear line of sight moment on exactly how that can occur.”

Hallahan said he was watching the positions of Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia “with concern”, saying it was creating a lot of uncertainty within the industry over when crops will be able to be picked.

In an open letter published last week, members of the Business Council of Australia urged states and territories to “stay the course” in line with the national plan.


Photo source: Dreamstime.com


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