An urgent solution is needed to resolve a ban on seasonal workers crossing into and out of Victoria from midnight tonight.
The ban is part of strict new border controls and has left Victoria’s horticulture sector concerned about the supply of labour for the future.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh wrote to Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes today calling for an urgent meeting of the nation’s Agriculture Ministers to deal with the issue.
“Seasonal workers are critical to the timely picking and packing of fruit and vegetables, and the increased demand on available labour is placing significant pressure on businesses,” Mr Walsh said.
“The COVID crisis has also seen many overseas backpackers return home and ongoing restrictions on international travel into Australia will mean no new overseas workers coming into our country.
“Border closures have hamstrung the movement of the seasonal labour workforce and our farmers’ ability to get their produce harvested on time.”
Mr Walsh said the request for the Minister to convene an out of session Agriculture Ministers Council meeting must be acted on immediately.
“The coronavirus crisis continues to put massive pressure on our horticulture sector,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Minister must immediately take action to find a workable solution for our farmers that will ensure the movement of seasonal workers in a COVID safe manner.
“If these problems securing seasonal labour aren’t fixed, our farmers will struggle to meet demand for fresh fruit and vegetables.”