New rules will keep Australians safe and ensure seasonal worker recruitment can continue

8 January 2021

National Cabinet has today agreed to implement new pre-departure COVID testing processes and reduced international arrival caps that will ensure seasonal workers can still come to Australia to work on farm this harvest. 
Minister for Agriculture and Deputy Leader of the Nationals, David Littleproud, said that exempting seasonal workers from the pre-departure testing demonstrated the government’s commitment to supporting our farmers at this time of severe workforce shortage.
“I welcome the new rules but I am also pleased to see that the needs of our Pacific seasonal workers and Australian farmers have been accommodated. 
“These exemptions are not about cutting corners but recognise the very low rate of COVID-19 in all participating Seasonal and Pacific Labour Scheme nations. 
“Since August last year when we re-opened the Seasonal and Pacific worker programs, we have stood ready to stamp the passports of more than 22,000 pre-vetted seasonal workers once states and territories approve their health protocols.
“I am pleased that most states and the Northern Territory have already brought Pacific workers in and are continuing to do so, however I would urge all jurisdictions to continue working with their respective industries to recruit more workers,” Minister Littleproud said today.