Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock has urged the government to consult with relevant communities and industries before making such drastic changes in the future.
As of Thursday night, seasonal workers who reside in the defined NSW and Victoria border zone, which includes towns such as Mildura, will be able to cross the border daily to undertake farm work in NSW by accessing a border zone resident permit.
In order to access the permit, seasonal workers will be required to declare they have not traveled in Victoria, outside the border zone, in the last 14 days. They will also be required to produce evidence of their place of residence and place of work.
Hancock said the initial decision to close the border with no warning or consultation should have been avoided. “The decision made little sense, and although a logical conclusion was finally reached, growers and workers were left in limbo for 10 days,” he said. “The conclusion was reached through significant work by many parties and could have been reached earlier if not for delays caused by NSW Health.”
According to Hancock, growers working around the clock will minimize damage caused by the worker restrictions. Support from packers will ensure quality fruit will be delivered to domestic and export markets.
“We are pleased for our growers, who work tirelessly every year to produce world-class citrus, and the seasonal workers that are essential to harvest every year,” Hancock said. “Citrus Australia is appreciative of the work of NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall and the NSW Department of Primary Industries staff, and for the support of Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, Federal Member for Mallee Anne Webster and the Independent Member for Mildura, Ali Cupper.”
Source: Citrus Australia
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