Growers should take advantage of NSW government’s decision to halve quarantine cost
8 April 2021
Citrus Australia has commended the NSW government’s decision to reduce the grower contribution to hotel quarantine for seasonal workers to $1500.
The agriculture sector was previously paying $3000 per worker under the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme and the new cost will be backdated to the commencement of the quarantine scheme.
Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said the original cost made the scheme unfeasible for the citrus industry, which could not have absorbed the cost.
“We thank the NSW government for working with the citrus industry. Their investment in the quarantine program will help meet our demands for the upcoming harvest, and increase the returns that make such an important economic contribution to towns like Leeton, Griffith and Narrandera to name just a few.”
Mr Hancock urged all NSW citrus businesses to take advantage of the reduced cost of quarantine to shore up their workforce for the upcoming harvest.
There are currently 36,000 working holiday makers (backpackers) in Australia, 170,000 less in the country compared to previous years. Availability of workers from the Pacific Islands – through the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme – is also limited.
“There are seats for workers on planes due to arrive in Australia in May but growers need to contact the companies involved right now,” Mr Hancock said.
“The biggest things growers need to realise is that there is a lead time of at least six to eight weeks required to contract an approved employment company, put workers on the plane, put them through quarantine and have them work on your farm.
“Growers can contact labour providers who have actively recruited for flights in NSW, like FIP Group, Owen Pacific Workforce, Jobs Australia and MADEC, or contact the Citrus Australia office for further help.”
Mr Hancock urged every citrus business to investigate their labour options if they have not done so.
“If your usual labour provider has told you they will have workers, ask them how they can guarantee that, because unless the work is being done now to secure those workers, it will be too late.
“I cannot stress enough that this will be a season unlike any other and all available options to secure workers must be explored.”
Contact Citrus Australia on (03) 5023 6333.
For further information, contact Stephen Cooke, Industry Engagement Manager, Citrus Australia, on 0427 124 437 or firstname.lastname@example.org