First seasonal workers for St George

News release | 23-Sep-2021

In a first for remote regional areas of Queensland, on-farm quarantine arrangements at St George have been approved for 34 seasonal workers from Tonga.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries General Manager Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Workers Programme Peter Donaghy said the seasonal workers were arriving at a crucial time to harvest significantly sized onion and garlic crops.

“These workers will provide much needed relief and support for growers in this remote region of Queensland,” Mr Donaghy said.

“This is the first time a cohort of seasonal workers has been approved to work in the St George area as the Department works to support the agriculture industry.

“As maintaining public health is a priority, stringent conditions and a strict compliance regime are in place to protect the community.

“Being able to successfully and safely accommodate seasonal workers in remote areas of Queensland is of great importance as we unite and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr Donaghy said getting the on-farm quarantine arrangements for the workers approved was a tribute to the hard work of many people across several organisations.

“Providing the workers required by the agriculture sector while simultaneously keeping the community safe is particularly challenging, especially in remote areas of Queensland,” Mr Donaghy said.

“Representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Health, the Darling Downs Public Health Unit, the South West Hospital and Health Services, the Federal Government, the Balonne Shire Council, and the approved employer Australian National Pickers Pty Ltd, have worked collaboratively to overcome a number of issues to make on-farm quarantining in St George a reality.

“Learnings from this process will pay further dividends when assessing applications for seasonal workers in other remote parts of Queensland.”

Mr Donaghy said the 34 seasonal workers were arriving as part of the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Workers Program (PLS-SWP).

“The Department has been at the forefront of supporting the agriculture industry since the start of the pandemic to ensure growers can identify seasonal workforce solutions while keeping Queensland communities safe from COVID-19,” Mr Donaghy said.

“So far, Queensland has successfully brought in 3680 PLS-SWP workers from Pacific Island nations with the lowest risk of COVID-19 transmission to work in the state’s agricultural businesses, with 2294 of those workers having successfully completed on-farm quarantining.

“The Department has further supported the agriculture industry through a range of initiatives including the PickQld initiative, and the Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network Local Solutions initiative.”

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Media contact: DAF Media, media@daf.qld.gov.au