The NSW Government will extend a subsidy for half the quarantine costs of overseas agricultural workers into the 2021/22 financial year, Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced today.
Mr Marshall said workers entering the country under the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) or Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) were eligible for a 50 per cent subsidy of the cost of quarantine.
“I am very pleased that this vital subsidy has been extended into next year, as our primary producers rely on seasonal and foreign workers to fulfil their workforce needs,” Mr Marshall said.
“We understand the cost of mandatory quarantine is a significant barrier for farming businesses, so the 50 per cent subsidy reduces the cost to industry from $3,000 per person to $1,500 per person.
“To date, the subsidy has helped bring in more than 1,000 skilled workers who are helping to pick the state’s produce and working in the meat processing sector.
“While we have seen an increase in applications under the PLS and SWP, we know the COVID-induced labour shortages in the agricultural sector remain at critical levels.
“So, it is hoped by continuing the subsidy into the next financial year, it will benefit the state’s primary industries sector, which is worth $16 billion to the NSW economy each year.”
Mr Marshall said the horticulture and meat processing industries were typically small, family run businesses that rely on foreign workers.
“It is fantastic to see local producers already benefiting from this subsidy from the NSW Government,” Mr Marshall said.
“An ongoing workforce will assist the horticulture sector which requires around 5,000 workers a month and the meat processing sector which will need around 10,000 workers across NSW over the next 12 months.”
The NSW Government has also implemented a range of other measures to overcome the agriculture workforce shortage, including spearheading the Ag Workers’ Code and the ‘Help Harvest NSW’ website to connect agriculture employers with out of work Australians.
Mandatory hotel quarantine remains a critical part of the state’s COVID defence and all international arrivals are required to enter hotel quarantine in accordance with the Public Health Orders.
All seasonal workers approved to quarantine in NSW are eligible for the subsidy, provided the majority of their work is undertaken in NSW.