For the first time in months, there’s a welcome ray of optimism on the horizon for Hillwood Berries.
The state government’s announcement yesterday that seasonal workers would be allowed in to Tasmania for the harvest season has come as welcome news to farm manager Simon Dornauf.
“To be honest, it was even better news than we were expecting,” he said.
In other news:
“Our business predominantly uses the Australian government’s Seasonal Worker Programme, so they’re the guys we recruit out of the Pacific Islands and East Timor. That’s how we’re able to have people coming back on for each season.
“If they hadn’t have been able to come, we’d have been really depending on whatever people there were in Australia to pick fruit.
“Everybody would have been starting from scratch for the season. [There would have been] a lot of work in training and the like.”
Hillwood Berries’ season generally begins in early November and ends in early June. The business has so far received about 120 job applications from Tasmanians and people interstate.
Mr Dornauf said he was satisfied Hillwood Berries would be able to ensure its on-farm accommodation for seasonal workers was COVID-safe to comply with the requirements the government would be enforcing.
From next week, seasonal workers from non-hotspot locations will be able to enter the state but will have to remain in their primary place of residence for 14 days unless going to work, seeking medical attention or purchasing essential supplies.
Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said the arrangements were the result of advice from Public Health director Mark Veitch.
“Every accommodation must be an approved place of residence,” he said. “Or an approved accommodation place for the seasonal worker.”
“It must be approved by the Tasmanian government and WorkSafe Tasmania
“We take the advice of the Public Health director. And we’ve been acting on that advice. So that advice has come in with respect to seasonal workers and we’re now responding to that advice.”
Labor frontbencher David O’Byrne said more information about the restrictions on seasonal workers needed to be made public.
“We need to make sure that when the workers come to Tasmania, that they’re in an environment where if there is a COVID case, it can be managed and we can keep Tasmanians safe,” he said.
“We know it’s an important input into the fruit-picking industry and it’s really important for the economy.
“We need to get more information from the government about what steps will be taken to ensure Tasmanians will remain safe and that those workers can do their work without risk.
“We can’t do it in a way that endangers and puts at risk the hard work that we’ve done over the last six months”
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