Victoria and Tasmania strike deal to bring in 1,500 Pacific seasonal workers

The state governments of Victoria and Tasmania have agreed to bring in 1,500 workers from the Pacific Islands to undertake quarantine interstate before arriving in Victoria for vital harvest work on farms across the state.

The Tasmanian Government will quarantine workers from the Pacific Islands in government-designated facilities over the first half of 2021, with costs borne by the Victorian Government and agricultural industry.

A statement said in return, the Victorian Government will facilitate Tasmania’s commitment towards getting Australians who are overseas home, which currently stands at 330 travellers.

Upon completion of the 14-day quarantine period and with a confirmed negative test for coronavirus, workers will be transferred on flights to Victoria, managed by the Victorian Government.

The repatriated Australians will undertake their 14-day quarantine arrangements in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system.

The costs of this will be borne by the Tasmanian Government, with all necessary approvals and logistics to facilitate the arrivals to be finalised in the coming weeks.

The Victorian Government will undertake a cost-sharing arrangement with the agricultural industry for the quarantine of workers, so expenses are not completely shouldered by farmers.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and Tasmania’s Director of Public Health will finalise the conditions of quarantining seasonal workers and their countries of origin, and farmers will finalise the necessary paperwork and approvals with the Commonwealth before workers begin to arrive in Tasmania.

Victoria’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and Tasmania’s Department of Premier and Cabinet will work together to establish the logistics of getting workers onto farm and invoicing.

The arrangement is subject to final consultation and agreement by the Federal Government, as the responsible government for the Pacific Mobility Schemes and worker movements.

“Victorian growers are facing a bumper crop this season, some for the first time in years. This is a critical step towards filling that workforce gap and ensuring fruit and vegetables don’t go to waste, said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

“I’m pleased we’ve been able to work with the Tasmanian Government and I’m grateful to Premier Peter Gutwein for his efforts to make it happen.”

“This arrangement isn’t a silver bullet in addressing this season’s challenges, but it will ease some of the pressure being felt by farmers,” Andrews said.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said, “This represents a good outcome for Tasmania with our hotel quarantine program now solely able to focus on arrivals who represent a lower risk with regard to potential transmission of the virus and importantly our own requirements for seasonal workers will continue to remain the priority and will not be impacted by this agreement.”

“Under the Agreement with Victoria, Tasmania will assist Victoria to ensure it has the workforce it needs to harvest its produce, while still contributing to the national repatriation effort to bring our people home, ensuring more of our stranded Australians can reunite with their loved ones.

“I thank Premier, Dan Andrews, for working in partnership with Tasmania to reach this outcome.”


Photo file ABC News