The first of around 1,200 seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands are arriving in South Australia today to cover critical worker shortages and help support thousands of local jobs in the state’s agriculture and horticulture industries.
Just over 200 workers will arrive today from Tonga and will be transported directly to the specially configured Paringa Resort in the Riverland to undertake two weeks quarantine before beginning the vital work.
The program is expected to cost up to $7 million which is being jointly funded by the Marshall Liberal Government and the agriculture sector with industry contributing $2,500 per worker.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham said the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has worked closely with SA Health and SAPOL to ensure public safety.
“South Australia’s primary industries are worth $14.1 billion a year to the state economy and with citrus season upon us it is critical we deliver a safe solution to fill our seasonal worker shortages to ensure our state’s crops are harvested,” Minster Basham said.
“Our plan will be able to cater for up to 1,200 seasonal workers across three months and will help support thousands of local jobs across South Australia’s agricultural industries.
“If fruit doesn’t get picked it would have devastating impacts across the entire supply chain which is why these workers are needed now.
“The State Government has made a significant push to encourage unemployed locals to take up fruit picking this year, but unfortunately not enough people have answered the call.
“Pacific Island nations have seen very low case numbers of COVID-19 but it is crucial we keep South Australians safe and strong which is why we have been working closely with SA Health and SA Police to ensure the Paringa facility meets strict safety standards.
“Just over 200 seasonal workers are arriving today before being taken directly to the Riverland under escort where they will undergo daily COVID-19 testing.
“The next group of around 200 workers is due to arrive in two-weeks-time with the quarantine facility to be deep cleaned between each group.”
The workers will be over and above the repatriation of returning Australians. If any individual tests positive for COVID-19 they will be transferred to the dedicated quarantine facility in Adelaide and managed according to the appropriate guidelines set out by SA Health.
More than 3000 Pacific Island workers have come into Australia since the outbreak of COVID-19, with just one worker from Papua New Guinea testing positive. South Australia will not be accepting any workers from Papua New Guinea under this program.
The seasonal workers will arrive under the Commonwealth Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme. PIRSA is responsible for the program with support from SA Health and SAPOL.