An exemption allowing farmers and agribusiness workers to cross the Queensland-New South Wales border was confirmed on Saturday, which should end three weeks of disruption and uncertainty for agricultural enterprises and service providers with business operations in both states.
On Saturday 22 Queensland’s Chief Health Officer provided an exemption for farmers and agribusiness workers as an exempt class of persons under a new Border restrictions Direction (See full text of the latest update issued on Saturday here).
The new class exemption means farmers and agribusiness workers are permitted to move between Queensland and New South Wales to perform essential agribusiness services or farming activities, such as tending to livestock or crops.
Queensland’s decision to impose a hard border closure with New South Wales due to COVID-19 concerns on August 8 caused a range of disruptions to people with agricultural businesses and jobs in both states.
People covered by the exemption include:
- Queensland residents who need to re-enter Queensland after travelling to New South Wales to perform essential agribusiness services for the agriculture supply chain or farming activities; or
- Queensland residents who need to re-enter Queensland after travelling to New South Wales to access or provide timely veterinary services, or to provide care for livestock; or
- New South Wales residents who need to enter Queensland to perform essential agribusiness services for the agriculture supply chain or farming activities; or
- New South Wales residents who need to enter Queensland to access or provide timely veterinary services, or to provide care for livestock.
People arriving in Queensland seeking entry under the farmer and agribusiness worker class exemption will need to provide the following information on arrival in Queensland:
- a copy of the Chief Health Officer class exemption letter (which can be obtained here)
- evidence of identity including place of residence;
- evidence they are an agribusiness essential worker – for example, a letter of employment, business contract, evidence of property ownership or lease, evidence of agistment arrangements;
- They do not need to complete an electronic Queensland Border Declaration Pass, however you may need to complete a written Queensland Border Declaration Pass upon arrival to Queensland. (The Queensland Government notes those requirement may change – for current information, please see here.)
When working under the farmer and agribusiness worker class exemption:
- Queensland residents in New South Wales must remain isolated, to the extent reasonably practicable, from the general public at the agribusiness or farm until the person returns to Queensland
- New South Wales residents in Queensland must remain isolated, to the extent reasonably practicable, from the general public at the agribusiness or farm until the person departs Queensland, or for 14 days, whichever period is shorter; and only remain in Queensland for the time necessary to perform the essential agribusiness or farming activities.
All businesses are also required to have a plan in place to prevent the introduction and transmission of COVID-19 amongst its workers and the community.
Agribusinesses and essential workers needing to cross the border are also encouraged to have a worker-specific quarantine plan demonstrating how they will minimise interactions with the community while working in Queensland.
The Queensland Department of Health says all workers are encouraged to carry a copy of their quarantine plan.
‘Help Harvest NSW’ launched to help secure Ag workers
Meanwhile the NSW Government has today launched a new one-stop resource to help farmers overcome a COVID-induced labour shortage and get unemployed Australians into critical work.
NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the ‘Help Harvest NSW’ website launched today will connect unemployed Australians with farm work opportunities across the State as part of the NSW Government’s COVID Recovery Plan.
With a bumper winter crop about six weeks from harvest, Mr Marshall said it was critical to act now as there would be a shortage of between 3,500 and 5,000 workers needed in the state.
“I want to see more Aussies climb off the couch and get out into the regions where there’s plenty of good paying work on until the end of the year.
“At a time when we are just beginning to emerge from drought, our State’s farmers cannot afford to miss out on the financial uplift that comes from a strong harvest.”
“My message to the increasing number of people looking for a job at the moment is this: get off your bum and get into agriculture – we need you.
“Take a look at Help Harvest NSW and see what job opportunities are around the corner.”
To explore ‘Help Harvest NSW’ visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/help-harvest-nsw.