Joint media release: Vanuatu answers call for more Top End mango pickers

13 October 2020

The Hon. David Littleproud MP Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management Deputy Leader of the Nationals
Senator Dr Sam McMahon Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory


  • A second group of workers has arrived from Vanuatu into Darwin, the first group since the formal reopening of the Seasonal Worker Programme was announced on 21 August
  • The 161 workers have come to assist with the mango harvest
  • Cohort will help meet critical workforce shortages in the NT’s mango and citrus industries.

The first flight since the formal reopening of the Seasonal Worker Programme arrived in Darwin this morning, bringing workers from Vanuatu to help meet critical workforce shortages in the Northern Territory’s mango industry.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the 161 workers would add to the group who arrived last month under the successful trial to help our Top End mango farmers.

“Mangoes are a significant economic driver for many Top End communities, and for the nation more broadly, and it’s vital we support farmers to access labour,” Minister Littleproud said.

“COVID-19 restrictions have placed unprecedented pressure on the supply of workers and that is why the Australian Government is working with industry and the Territory government to get workers in where they are needed most.

“The seasonal workers will assist with the mango harvest and can then move interstate to support other crop harvests.

“The Australian Government will continue to be agile in our response to COVID-19 and in ensuring we do everything within our power to help our farm sector and regional communities rise to the many challenges this pandemic is presenting.

“I want to continue to encourage Australians looking for work to think about taking up a harvest job – picking our fruit and vegetables is important work and there are lots of job opportunities available across the nation. But where industry can’t get workers, the Seasonal Worker Programme fills an important gap.”

Country Liberal Party Senator for Northern Territory, Dr Sam McMahon said the arrival of the additional workers from Vanuatu will be welcomed by the mango growers of the Top End.

“Our nation depends on the Territory to grow nearly half of Australia’s mangoes and as a result, mangoes are an important part of the NT’s economy, Senator McMahon said”     

“The hard-working NT farmers have produced another great crop of mangoes and with the arrival of the Seasonal Workers, the mangoes will soon be in our grocery stores and supermarkets around the country, if the Northern Territory Government changes its stance to allow workers to complete their quarantine on farm.

“Many of our larger producers have the capacity to quarantine workers on their farms so they can start picking immediately, as they are allowed to do in QLD.”

Currently workers are required to quarantine at the Howard Springs facility, which will mean by the time they are released much of the crop will be on the ground.

This announcement builds on the successful labour mobility trial which saw 162 workers fly into the Northern Territory in early September from Vanuatu to assist NT’s mango industry.

Nine countries have signed on to participate in the reopening of the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme.

Fast Facts

  • On 21 August 2020, the Prime Minister announced National Cabinet had agreed to recommence targeted recruitments under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme to alleviate persistent workforce shortages in critical sectors of the Australian economy.
  • The 161 workers arriving today from Vanuatu will undertake 14 days of quarantine at the NT Howard Springs facility.