CHEAPER quarantine costs are set to help locals on the land bring in overseas workers, but a Gunnedah citrus farmer argues the time frame to do so is "very short".
It means those who enter Australia under the Pacific Labour Scheme or the Seasonal Worker Scheme will be eligible for a 50 per cent subsidy, taking the quarantine cost from $3000 per person to $1500.
All seasonal workers approved to quarantine in NSW during the 2020/21 financial year will be eligible for the subsidy, NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said.
"We know that our primary producers rely on seasonal and foreign workers, but we have heard loud and clear that the cost of mandatory quarantine is a significant barrier for farming businesses wanting to employ overseas workers," he said.
Gunnible Pastoral Company's Robert Hoddle welcomed the news, but said it was a "very short" time frame to try to organise staff to come into the country.
"As we're halfway through April we've got a bit over two months to organise all these things," Mr Hoddle said.
"It usually takes two months to get visas issued and to organise flights."
Mr Hoddle has been calling for changes to the quarantine system for overseas workers for some time.
"It's a long process and that's one of the problems of the program, compliance is onerous dealing with Canberra and the requirements, it's a lot to turn farmers off," he said.
"We've sort of started it but until that announcement was made it was going to be awkward to get sufficient growers to charter an aircraft."
Mr Hoddle wants to see changes to the way quarantine is run for the workers overall.
"They're coming from a COVID-safe country like Tonga and Vanuatu, and they have a vaccine, where the risk is very low," he told the Leader.
"There's been no problem with COVID [over there]."
The subsidy starts this financial year provided the majority of work is in NSW.
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