Almost 500 foreign workers will be added to the state’s agricultural workforce, joining the more than 2,000 whose arrival the NSW Nationals in the state government have already aided.
Nationals Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said while this would be welcome news for farmers dealing with the COVID-exacerbated labour shortage, the NSW Government was constantly reviewing its support measures to give industry the best help it can.
“NSW has the cheapest quarantine arrangements and has provided more support for its farmers than any other jurisdiction, whether it be through drought or the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean more can’t be done,” Mr Marshall said.
“This month, an additional 306 foreign agricultural workers from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands will start work on farms across NSW, joining another 175 who arrived from Tonga just last month.
“They join the more than 2,000 who have arrived since the start of the pandemic, all of whose quarantine has been subsidised by 50 per cent, making our hotel arrangements far and away the cheapest in the country.
“I am constantly working with industry to look for the best ways to overcome evolving challenges. I’ve recently requested the NSW Department of Primary Industries explore even more opportunities to make things cheaper and quicker for our farmers.”
Mr Marshall said potential options could include quarantine arrangements in home countries or on-farm, and these would be discussed at the upcoming East Coast Agricultural Labour Task Force, which all relevant states had signed up for.
“These workers come from countries with low-to-zero rates of COVID transmission, and as our own situation in NSW has changed recently, it means we can explore options that were previously unavailable to us,” Mr Marshall said.
To support industry through the COVID-exacerbated workforce shortage, the NSW Government has aided the arrival of 2,500 foreign workers, spearheaded the Ag Workers’ Code, launched the ‘Help Harvest NSW’ website, provided a 50 per cent subsidy for hotel quarantine, and more.