Border closures discussed at National Cabinet meeting

By Jamie Salter

An agricultural workers’ code for cross-border travel, similar to arrangements in place for the freight industry, will be developed for farmers.

A National Cabinet meeting was held on August 21 to discuss the impact of current border restrictions on agriculture.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said a commitment was made by First Ministers to develop a nationally consistent approach to agricultural worker restrictions.

“I am reassured that Premiers have shown strong leadership in committing to work together in the national interest to find solutions to these serious cross-border issues,” Mr Littleproud said.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers, farming groups from each state said an agricultural worker permit similar to that developed for the freight industry should be made to enable the critical movement of agriculture workers.

“Cows must be milked, sheep must be shorn, lambs and calves will be born and must be monitored, produce must be picked, and the diverse grain crops must be harvested,” they said.

“These activities, by their very nature are time sensitive, requiring an additional short-term workforce, and timely access to specialist providers and contractors.”

Victoria and South Australia are separately discussing exceptions for communities either side of their border.