Common ground needed on seasonal worker issue

COMMON ground needs to be found between the Victorian and Federal Governments to give Sunraysia farmers access to foreign seasonal workers.

Member for Mildura Ali Cupper has spoken to new Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas to express the dire concerns of local farmers.

“The Victorian Government has set up a quarantine system to allow 1200 tennis players and associated staff to attend the Australian Open because of the economic benefits – and jobs – it creates in Melbourne.

“Exactly the same justification applies to seasonal workers in the regions. Our agriculture industries contribute billions of dollars to the State economy every year. It’s in everyone’s interests that our farmers have the workers they need to get valuable fruit off the vine.

“Without access to foreign workers, our farmers are facing a huge economic hit – which ultimately will impact all of us with both access to, and the price we pay, for our fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Ms Cupper said while it was important for the Victorian Government to fast-track a solution, the Federal Government also had a role to play.

The Vanuatu Government has put forward a proposal to introduce a travel bubble with Australia to provide a foreign workforce for current harvests.

“One thing the Federal Government could do is provide health-care professionals to travel to Vanuatu to conduct COVID-19 tests on potential travellers to Australia,” Ms Cupper said.

“This would give the Victorian Government more safety assurances around the seasonal workers coming into the State, given the rate of testing in Vanuatu is relatively low.”

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