More than 150 seasonal workers from Vanuatu have arrived in Tasmania as the first cohort to do so under a quarantine agreement struck by the state.
The workers arrived on Friday night. Some 56 of them will remain in Tasmania to take up farm and agribusiness roles after their quarantine ends, while the rest will head to work in Victoria.
More are set to arrive in Tasmania shortly, with up to 1500 allowed under an agreement brokered with the Victorian government in January.
Under the deal Tasmania will quarantine workers from the Pacific Islands over the first half of 2021 but Victoria and the agriculture industry will foot the bill.
In return, the Victorian government will take on Tasmania’s commitment towards repatriating overseas Australians.
Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said it was a great example of what can be achieved when states work together.
“Bringing these workers into Victoria under the Pacific Mobility Schemes will ease some pressure for farmers – but it’s not a silver bullet,” she said in a statement on Saturday.
“We need to keep working to encourage locals into these jobs – something that the federal government should play an active role in.”
Another 144 workers will arrive in Tasmania from the Solomon Islands on Tuesday, with 54 to stay and work in Tasmania.
Attracting local workers to address critical labour shortages on farms has been a problem for much of the country.
A federal incentive program that pays $ 6000 relocation bonuses to local workers who take up picking jobs failed to attract enough interest.
Elsewhere in Australia, about 1200 South Pacific fruit pickers were expected help fill labour shortages in South Australia, while more than 800 Pacific Island workers were approved to enter NSW.
Australian Associated Press