NSW will demand borders are reopened for farmers at the next National Cabinet meeting on Friday. Crop and merino sheep farmer Steven Start (pictured) cannot access his herd in NSW nor can he travel to WA to replenish his flock. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
NSW will demand borders are reopened for farmers at the next National Cabinet meeting on Friday. Crop and merino sheep farmer Steven Start (pictured) cannot access his herd in NSW nor can he travel to WA to replenish his flock. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Urgent border demand for fruit pickers

When National Cabinet meets on Friday, NSW will propose borders across the country are reopened for farmers, who face financial ruin as a result of the strict closures.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the situation was "at the 11th hour" for producers across NSW, who needed an adequate workforce for the fast approaching harvest season.

"We cannot stand by and watch farmers, crops and businesses face ruin due to the border closure with Victoria," Mr Barilaro said.

"Agriculture is an essential industry. Our farmers feed and clothe the nation and we must do everything to ensure they can continue to operate as smoothly as possible."

An Agricultural Workers Code will be presented and considered at the next meeting of National Cabinet on Friday, and at a meeting of Agriculture Ministers on Tuesday.

The code would see new requirements introduced to ensure the safety of farmers and communities by having a COVID Safe Plan in place, the use of PPE by workers and robust record keeping to allow for contact tracing.

There would also be regular voluntary testing for workers under the new code.

Agriculture Minister Adam Wallace said keeping the borders closed to agricultural workers would further exacerbate the financial strain on farmers from the drought. Photo by David Gray/Getty Images
Agriculture Minister Adam Wallace said keeping the borders closed to agricultural workers would further exacerbate the financial strain on farmers from the drought. Photo by David Gray/Getty Images

Agriculture Minister Adam Wallace said the current situation was unworkable and would further harm primary producers, who are still working to recover from the drought.

"Our farmers have had a gutful of these senseless border restrictions and so have I," he said.

"As Agriculture Minister I am not going to stand by quietly while our primary producers face failed crops and animal welfare disasters due to well-meaning but impractical road blocks."

He said the current permit system, which he describes as "cumbersome" restricts the movement of agricultural workers across the NSW/Victoria border beyond 100 kilometres.

"While we have been able to introduce a new permit which has allowed more primary producers to access exemptions, the time has definitely come to remove these restrictions altogether," he said.

Originally published as NSW's urgent border demand



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