By Stephanie Holliday
THE first plane load of Pacific Islander workers destined for Victorian farms arrived in Tasmania on Sunday night.
The workers, secured through a partnership between the Victorian and Tasmanian governments, are completing 14-days’ of quarantine before travelling to work in Victoria.
More than 100 people make up the first cohort of workers to arrive in Australia, with more scheduled to arrive soon as part of a rolling flight schedule that will provide up to 1,500 workers for Victorian agriculture businesses under the Pacific Mobility Schemes.
“Bringing these workers into Victoria will ease some pressure for farmers – but it’s not a silver bullet,” Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture, Mary-Anne Thomas, said.
“We need to keep working to encourage locals into these jobs – something that the Federal Government should play an active role in.”
However, leader of the Victorian Nationals, Peter Walsh, has criticised the scheme as “too little, too late.”
“Industry presented a solution to Government in October last year to quarantine workers through a purpose-built facility in Mildura, but the Andrews Government refused to adopt it,” he said.
Victoria’s agriculture industry, normally reliant on international labour during harvest periods, has grappled with worker shortages this year as a result of national and state border closures.