TASMANIA will again host quarantining international workers after an extension to the seasonal worker program with Victoria was announced, yet there is no guarantee the workers will end up directly assisting Tasmanian producers.
In Parliament Budget Estimates sitting this week, Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett was asked how many of the 1500 workers that would quarantine in Tasmania would remain in the state to assist in seasonal work.
“It will depend on the needs of the needy, it will be responded too and negotiated,” Mr Barnett responded.
Announced earlier this week, the agreement will see Tasmania quarantine 1500 Pacific workers for Victoria, in exchange for Victoria quarantining about 350 returning Australians on behalf of Tasmania.
To date, Tasmania has quarantined more than 2300 international seasonal workers.
There is no agreement in the arrangement that the workers will stay in Tasmania, however the easing of burdens on worker shortages interstate has previously seen workers return to Tasmania.
The program is an extension of an agreement forged earlier this year, which, Fruit Growers Tasmania CEO Peter Cornish said provided many positives both to Australian farmers as well as the Pacific Island nations involved.
“Any initiative that sees additional seasonal workers enter the country to work in agriculture is a positive outcome for all states,” Mr Cornish said.
A government spokesperson said 903 of the 2300 workers that had quarantined in Tasmania had worked or were working on local farms and in agribusinesses in Tasmania.
“Tasmania’s international seasonal workforce recruitment for the coming season is estimated at 1800 workers.”
“Some international workers who quarantined in the state and worked locally during the 2020-21 harvest have been transferred to other parts of the country during our low season under the Australian Government program.”