The first of around 1200 seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands last week arrived in South Australia to cover critical worker shortages and help support thousands of local jobs in the state’s agriculture and horticulture industries.
Just over 200 workers arrived from Tonga and were transported directly to the specially configured Paringa Resort in the Riverland to undertake two weeks quarantine before starting the vital work.
The program is expected to cost up to $7m which is being jointly funded by the State Government and the agriculture sector with industry contributing $2500 per worker.
Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) worked closely with SA Health and SAPOL to ensure public safety. “South Australia’s primary industries are worth $14.1b 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 1200 seasonal workers across three months and will help support thousands of local jobs across South Australia’s agricultural industries. “If fruit does not 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.
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.