Joint media release: Australia – Vanuatu show it takes two to mango

3 September 2020

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, The Hon David Littleproud MP
Senator for the Northern Territory, Senator Dr Sam McMahon


  • Workers from Vanuatu arrive as part of the Northern Territory labour mobility trial.
  • Cohort will help meet critical workforce shortages in the NT’s mango industry over the coming months.
  • The trial will provide a boost to countries in our region facing significant economic disruption due to COVID-19.

Vanuatu has answered Australia’s call for Top End mango pickers, with more than 160 workers flying in this morning from the South Pacific nation to start their 14-day COVID-19 quarantine.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Australian Government was delighted to welcome the cohort as part of the Northern Territory labour mobility trial.

“Australian farmers have had a challenging year, with COVID-19 restrictions placing unprecedented pressure on the supply of workers,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This group of workers will help meet critical workforce shortages in the Northern Territory’s mango industry over the coming months.

“I want to thank the Government of Vanuatu for supporting their workers being part of the trial,” Minister Littleproud said

Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory, Dr Sam McMahon, extended a warm welcome to the Ni-Vanuatu workers and thanked them for leaving their families and their nation to help Territory mango farmers get this year’s crop off.

“I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of NT Farmers and their members for working with us so cooperatively to get this across the line.

“The NT mango industry produced almost half of our national production of mangoes in 2018-19 – 32,900 tonnes worth nearly $109 million.

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

The workers will now undertake 14 days quarantine at the Howard Springs facility before travelling to farms to start work.

“The health of the Australian community and the welfare of workers is a top priority for the Australian and Northern Territory Governments.

“Many Australians have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure Australians are recruited first, growers had to undertake stringent labour market testing.

“We know that countries in our region are facing significant economic disruption due to COVID-19 and the trial will provide a very welcome boost to their economies.”

Fast Facts

  • This is the first new recruitment of Pacific workers since Australia’s borders closed on 20 March 2020 and will inform future mobilisations under our Pacific labour mobility schemes.
  • 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 Trial arrangements were reviewed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, with the NT Chief Health Officer agreeing that workers could be brought in using the same pathway that is used for Australian citizens.