Both Australian mango farmers and our Pacific neighbours will benefit from a trial resumption of the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme in the Northern Territory.
Up to 170 workers will come to Australia to support the Territory’s mango industry under the trial, which is an important first step to restarting the entry of workers under our Pacific labour mobility programmes. The entry of new workers paused due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Workers in Vanuatu will be the first to participate in the trial, based on health considerations and industry demand.
Important health measures, including 14 days’ quarantine, will apply to protect the health of both the communities in the Northern Territory and the workers. Labour market testing will be applied to ensure Australian jobseekers are given priority.
In recent years, nearly half of the Northern Territory mango seasonal workforce has been made up of Pacific and Timorese workers, many of whom return each season to support Northern Territory mango growers. Their experience is highly valued.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said Pacific and Timorese workers have played a critical role in supporting industries across Australia, particularly agriculture.
“Australia has been working closely with our Pacific family during the crisis, and this trial represents a small but significant step towards the broader resumption of entries under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme,” she said.
“Any further steps will be considered carefully and will prioritise the health of communities here in Australia, as well as the Pacific and Timor-Leste.”
Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Alex Hawke MP, said these would be the first Pacific workers to enter Australia since 20 March 2020.
“The Pacific is facing significant economic disruption due to COVID-19. This trial will provide a welcome boost in remittances to support the economic recovery of our region and will enable more workers to support their families and communities back home.”
Pacific Island countries have been very successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our region. The Australian Government looks forward to continuing to partner with our Pacific family through labour mobility programs.