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NSW Farmers' president 'shaking head' after PM blocks NSW quarantine relief

Farmers could be burning the midnight oil during a bumper harvest without adequate farm labour

A recent intervention by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thrown a spanner in the works for farmers based in New South Wales who recently welcomed a proposal to scrap hotel quarantine.

It was revealed last Friday Morrison had endorsed NSW's move to scrap quarantine for international arrivals from the 1st of November, however, it has now emerged that Mr Morrison is unprepared to back the proposal.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson was in high spirits after Premier Dominic Perrottet promised to scrap hotel quarantine, but was left frustrated on Monday to hear of the reversal headed by Australia’s Prime Minister. Mr Jackson protested in a statement issued on Monday:

“We had been calling for cheaper and more efficient quarantine arrangements heading into a big harvest season, and were relieved by the Premier’s announcement.”
“Now we’re left shaking our heads. Plants ready for harvest don’t care about political finger-pointing or vaccination rates; our farmers desperately need workers and this is just another barrier to getting the help they need.”
“Both the state and federal governments urgently need to sit down and sort this out, so we can get on with the job of harvesting our crops and helping rebuild the economy.”

Despite the temporary relief brought about by last week’s announcement to scrap quarantine for international arrivals that have received two doses of vaccine against COVID-19, NSW's peak farming body's primary concerns remain on the critical labour shortage in the State.

Speaking last week at the time the quarantine relief was unimpeded, Jackson acknowledged the boost for the farming industry but also highlighted the difficulties farmers are experiencing due to the workforce shortages in NSW.

“This is a positive step but our farmers are still in a very desperate situation. They are trying to source workers for harvest, and even though the removal of quarantine will help, we are concerned the workers won’t arrive in time.”
“The state government has opened a window to the world and now we need harvest workers to go to the farms where they’re needed.”

Mr Jackson made assertions of a similar scale of labour shortage - 10,000 harvest workers - to those also being made by the Victorian Nationals opposition

“Now that vaccination rates are rapidly rising and we have access to rapid antigen testing, we need to pull out all the stops if we are to have any hope of avoiding waste and lost income.
“We hope to see the state and federal governments work together on the problem and streamline any systems that will delay harvest workers.”


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