Queensland’s annual harvest season can go ahead safely during COVID-19

COVID-19

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Queensland’s annual harvest season can go ahead with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today assuring growers they can maintain a seasonal workforce while meeting their COVID-19 public health obligations.

Many growers in Far North Queensland rely heavily on seasonal workers coming into the area for work each year.

The Premier said the industry needed clarity about managing an incoming workforce, particularly backpackers, at an important time of year.

“Everyone needs fresh fruit and vegetables to stay healthy during this time, and much of Australia’s produce is grown right here,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“To harvest these crops our horticulture industry has an average monthly workforce demand of up to 10,000 skilled and unskilled workers over the next six months, but COVID-19 restrictions must also be followed.

“So we have a clear message to agricultural employers and workers about what they need to do, especially if they come from a coronavirus hot spot.”

Any seasonal worker coming to Queensland would need a border pass and details of:

  • where they had been for the previous two weeks
  • written confirmation of a job in Queensland
  • and where they planned to reside.
  • If they have come from a declared COVID-19 hotspot, they must also self-quarantine for 14 days at their own or employer’s expense before starting their employment.

The Government will also:

  • promote the importance of complying with health obligations
  • insist on mandatory health management plans
  • strengthen compliance
  • and ensure local solutions for local circumstances are developed.
  • Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Wide Bay Burnett, Cairns and Moreton Bay North will have the highest demand for harvest workers, followed by Darling Downs-Maranoa and Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday.

“During this process, we need to keep everybody safe, and we all have an obligation for taking actions that prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Mr Furner said.

“That means everybody involved in the agricultural employment and supply chain — workers, transporters, accommodation providers, employers, labour-hire companies and local communities — are responsible for ensuring proper arrangements.

“Our plan will facilitate the movement of agricultural labourers while ensuring health and safety for them and our regional communities.”

Agricultural seasonal worker employers, transporters and accommodation providers must have a health management plan in place. Employers must comply with stringent record-keeping on the health status of their workforce.

Mr Furner said agricultural production was a key pillar of the Queensland economy and was always going to be vital in managing the pandemic.

“That’s why we moved quickly to declare agriculture an essential industry. Queensland farmers and fishers have built a global reputation for their great produce and we stand by them 100 per cent.”

For further information on health management plans, recording employment/travel history and health status of employees, and other COVID-19 agribusiness support, visit www.business.qld.gov.au 


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