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Seasonal and Pacific Worker pilot programme to be trialled in the Top End

Media Release 4 August 2020

  • Targeted trial to help meet labour needs of Northern Territory mango growers.
  • The NT relies on seasonal workers and Working Holiday Makers more than any other food growing region.
  • The pilot will be open to Vanuatu citizens initially, with other nations potentially joining the programme later.

The Australian and Northern Territory Governments have agreed to conduct a trial aimed at addressing the labour shortages affecting NT farmers.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted agriculture with restrictions impeding international and domestic travel for would-be workers.

“The Northern Territory’s mango producers in particular are facing a rough road ahead without the workers they rely on for their harvest,” Minister Littleproud said.

“That’s going to come to a head when the mango harvest starts in earnest in September.

“This trial will see up to 170 workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme come to Australia to help with the 2020 harvest, with more workers to potentially follow subject to a review of the first cohort and approval for additional numbers by the NT Government.

“No one wants to see fruit and vegetables wasted and this trial will help make sure that doesn’t happen.

“There will be stringent conditions in place to ensure the safety of Australians and Northern Territorians – including the 14-day self-isolation requirements and the Northern Territory Chief Health Officer giving final go ahead for recruitment to commence.

“Growers will also need to meet conditions to participate including stringent labour market testing already required under the Seasonal Worker Programme.

“The Territory’s growers, more than any others, rely on seasonal workers and working holidaymakers- COVID-19 has virtually stopped that labour supply.

“To those working holiday makers who chose to stay in Australia, thank you for being here – and Australians looking for work, please consider heading north to take advantage of the work there,” Minister Littleproud said.