NSW border closure no longer acceptable for agriculture

Published: 31 August 2020

NSW border closure no longer acceptable for agriculture

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall have today called for the removal of restrictions on agricultural workers crossing the NSW/Victoria border.


The call comes ahead of a meeting of National Cabinet on Friday, where an Agricultural Workers Code will be presented and considered.

Mr Barilaro said agriculture was an essential industry and that it was imperative restrictions were lifted to ensure farmers had an adequate workforce for the fast-approaching harvest.

“The situation is now at the 11th hour for many producers across the State. We cannot stand by and watch farmers, crops and businesses face ruin due to the border closure with Victoria,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Agriculture is an essential industry. Our farmers feed and clothe the nation and we must do everything to ensure they can continue to operate as smoothly as possible.

“NSW is an agriculture production powerhouse and this needs to continue, to help the economy recover after COVID-19, and bring many communities and farmers back from the brink after years of drought.”

Mr Marshall said he would be taking forward a proposal to a meeting of Agriculture Ministers tomorrow, which would see sensible safety requirements imposed in exchange for the removal of all other restrictions on the movement of agricultural workers across all borders.

“Our farmers are suffering because the current cumbersome permit system restricts the free movement of agricultural workers across the NSW/Victoria border, beyond 100 kilometres,” Mr Marshall said.

“While we have been able to introduce a new permit which has allowed more primary producers to access exemptions, the time has definitely come to remove these restrictions altogether.

“That’s why tomorrow I will be taking a proposal to a meeting of Agriculture Ministers which will would see border restrictions on farmers removed in exchange for sensible safety requirements.

“As part of that proposal, new requirements would be introduced to ensure the safety of primary producers and rural communities, including having a mandatory COVID Safe Plan in place, the use of PPE by workers as well as robust records keeping to allow contact tracing.

“Our farmers have had a gutful of these senseless border restrictions and so have I. As Agriculture Minister I am not going to stand by quietly while our primary producers face failed crops and animal welfare disasters due to well-meaning but impractical road blocks.”

The Minister for Agriculture is proposing an Agricultural Workers Code that would allow for the free movement of agriculture so long as COVID-19 safe strategies are in place including individual record keeping, COVID-safe plans, the use of PPE and regular voluntary testing.

The Code will be considered by agriculture ministers on Tuesday and by National Cabinet on Friday.

Other News and Events

NSW Government to boost resilience in regional NSW amid COVID-19
NSW Government to boost resilience in regional NSW amid COVID-19

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said more than $100 million of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 stimulus package will go towards the expansion of plantation nurseries to boost production, infrastructure repairs in State forests, the rebuild of local showgrounds, and vital upgrades to regional hospitals, courthouses and Aboriginal housing.

Temporary housing pods continue to roll out across NSW
Temporary housing pods continue to roll out across NSW

Temporary accommodation pods are continuing to be delivered to the hardest hit residents in bushfire affected areas across the state, with more pods arriving in Kempsey and Eurobodalla this week.

$140 million to boost critical industries damaged by bushfires
$140 million to boost critical industries damaged by bushfires

The NSW Government today announced a $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package to support forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries impacted by the recent bushfires.