The NSW Government will become the first jurisdiction to write the new Agricultural Workers Code into public health orders, paving the way for the $15.9 billion NSW primary industries sector to find skilled workers for the upcoming harvest.
Premier Berejiklian said the code was critical to supporting the agricultural industry and ensuring regional communities can capitalise on this year’s bumper crops.
“NSW is an agriculture production powerhouse and the Agricultural Workers’ Code enables the state’s farmers to be the launching pad for NSW to commence recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The code means that farmers from Warialda to Wagga Wagga can get the best skilled workers to help them with this year’s harvest, regardless if they’re from Queensland, South Australia, Victoria or the Northern Territory.”
Acting Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the code was common sense policy that would ensure farmers could access the workers they need to run their farms.
“I’m glad NSW has worked proactively to ensure our farmers can tap into the skills they need despite the unprecedented COVID-19 restrictions impacting movement across state borders – from shearers to contract harvesters and fruit pickers,” Mr Toole said.
“This is a win for farmers and will support jobs in agriculture right across the state.”
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall said the NSW Government had been a driving force behind the interjurisdictional agreement.
“Our farmers have just come out of the worst drought on record, and they are now poised to begin their recovery with the largest winter crop harvest since 2016, and they need the workforce to take advantage of that,” Mr Marshall said.
“This code will allow the critical free movement of agricultural workers across state borders so that primary industries can not only continue to feed and clothe the nation, but be the driving force behind the economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Agricultural workers travelling between NSW and Victoria will need a permit and relevant identification and will be required to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as appropriate.
Travelling workers will also need to keep records of their movements. Agricultural employers need to support workers to perform self-isolation in the first 14 days after entry into NSW, and must have a COVID safety plan in place.