Tassie harvest worker boost but more needed

Tassie harvest worker boost but more needed

Politics
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150-plus workers arrive in Tasmania from Vanuatu but more jobs available.

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Tasmanian fruit growers have welcomed about 160 newly-arrived seasonal workers from Vanuatu, but say they will only form "a small part" of the broader workforce required to bring in the full summer harvest.

Vanuatu has only had one recorded case of COVID-19 and that was an international arrival who entered quarantine there last year.

Through the Commonwealth government's Seasonal Worker Program, the 157 Vanuatuans flew into Hobart Airport on Wednesday night and immediately went into isolation in a government-run quarantine facility, where they will remain for 14 days before starting work.

Their arrival coincided with the end of the quarantine period for 162 Tongan seasonal workers who touched down in Tasmania two weeks ago.

Related reading: Student visa holders allowed to work more hours if they take up harvest job

Fruit Growers Tasmania chief executive Peter Cornish said plenty of work was still available for locals, despite the expanding seasonal workforce.

"The practical reality is we need more than 8000 seasonal workers in this state during the peak summer period just to make sure the fruit is able to be picked, packed and sent to market," he said. "160 workers may sound like a lot of people, but it is a small part of the larger workforce needed to bring in Tasmania's summer fruit harvest."

"January and February are always a very busy time for us, where we have cherries and summerfruit to harvest, berries in full swing, and thinning work being done for apples, pears and other autumn fruits."

Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said like the Tongan arrivals, the Vanuatuan workers would need to return a negative coronavirus test result before entering the local workforce after their quarantine period was completed.

"[These workers] will assist in making sure our world-class agriculture industry has the workforce it needs for harvest this year," he said.

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