Essential worker process needs explaining

Tasmanian Labor
  • Labor’s RTI request raises questions about essential worker definition
  • Interstate workers flown in for jobs easily filled by Tasmanians
  • Government needs to explain its essential worker process
  • Documents released under a Right to Information request by Labor has revealed concerning details about the types of interstate workers given quarantine exemptions, including skills readily available in Tasmania.

    Shadow Minister for Building and Construction Jen Butler said the government needs to explain its process for deciding who is an essential worker, when exemptions are being given for roles that are easily filed by Tasmanians.

    “Tasmanians want to know why people are being allowed to come into the state to work, without having to go into quarantine first, and in not all cases needing to have a COVID-19 test,” Ms Butler said.

    “The government defines essential workers as people who possess “specialist skills critical to maintaining key industries or businesses” yet there are occupations on that list that could easily be filled by a Tasmanian.

    “Putting the word ‘specialist’ in front of a job title does not make someone an essential worker.

    “More than 20,000 Tasmanians have lost their jobs during COVID-19 and it beggars belief that we could not find a bricklayer, a construction worker or an engineer in Tasmania instead of importing these skills.

    “Essential worker exemptions should only be granted in exceptional circumstances when it is proven there are no Tasmanians who can do the job, and where it won’t undermine the safety of our community.

    “Anyone who is given exemption from quarantining should be subject to mandatory testing on their arrival into Tasmania – regardless of where they are travelling from.

    “The government needs to immediately come clean on its process for deciding who is an essential worker – the facts don’t add up.”

    Jen Butler

    Shadow Minister for Building and Construction

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