Critical agriculture worker permit set to be announced

Freeing up of border restrictions for agricultural workers set to be announced

Coronavirus
NEW SYSTEM: Victoria's Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes is confident a new agricultural permit system will introduced soon.

NEW SYSTEM: Victoria's Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes is confident a new agricultural permit system will introduced soon.

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There's been a breakthrough on NSW-Victorian cross-border restrictions imposed on agriculture.

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A new permit system is set to be reintroduced for farmers and agricultural sector workers, seeking to move between Victoria and NSW.

NSW imposed strict border controls, a week ago.

That meant farmers and agricultural contractors were told they would have to fly to Sydney, before being allowed to travel to properties in the south and west of the state.

"It's imminent, a permit system will be reinstated for agricultural services, for Victoria-NSW border crossings," Victorian Agriculture minister Jaclyn Symes said.

Previously, residents of the NSW-Victoria 'border bubble" were able to move more freely between states.

"A solution will come out very shortly that will adress all agricultural workers, regardless of whether they are in the bubble or not," Ms Symes said.

"it will be a matter for the NSW government as to how that will be articulated, but it will be something that will normalise it - you will get a permit as a critical agricultural worker.

"You will be able to travel into NSW, to perform those tasks, and then return home."

Restrictions have hit farmers and agricultural businesses along both the NSW and South Australian borders.

Under the proposed plan, it's believed farmers, shearers, agricultural contractors and agronomists will get a permit to travel into NSW.

Holders will have to demonstrated they have returned a negative COVID-19 test.

They will also have to self-isolate, when staying overnight in NSW.

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Victorians living just across the SA border, near towns like Kaniva, have been told only essential travellers can enter the state, from August 21.

The hard border lockdown comes after NSW again tightened its border controls.

Anyone crossing the Victorian-NSW border will be placed into hotel quarantine for 14 days and be required to cover the $3,000 accomodation cost.

Ms Symes said the issue came to a head when, without notification or consultation, NSW imposed the further border restricitons.

She said she'd since been in constant contact with her NSW counterpart, Adam Marshall, who had raised the issues the NSW Premier and health minister.

"I was getting a lot of emails from farmers, who had properties on either side of the border, hay contractors, agronomists and people that worked on farms, who could not longer access the permit system."

Ms Symes said she, and Victoria's Border Commissioner, were still working through the details on the South Australian border.

New Public Health Orders had been issued, this morning, but Ms Symes said she wasn't across the details.

"We haven't seen any detail come out of the SA government yet, so I do have concerns," she said.

"The orders refer to agriculture, so I am optimistic there will be some work arounds, for that important sector, but I am yet to have confirmation of that.

"If the NSW government presents a workable solution, I think that would be a good start to demonstrate to SA, the way they could do it as well."

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