Backpackers Ellie Hudson and Luke Pannett of England. Agricultural visa holders coming to work in Australia have been slapped with a new set of coronavirus restrictions. Photo Roy VanDerVegt
Backpackers Ellie Hudson and Luke Pannett of England. Agricultural visa holders coming to work in Australia have been slapped with a new set of coronavirus restrictions. Photo Roy VanDerVegt

Backpackers in ag facing strict new coronavirus rules

BACKPACKERS coming to work in the southwest have been slapped with a new set of rules, as the state and federal governments work to stop coronavirus spreading to the region.

From this week, agriculture workers travelling to Queensland will come under the banner of 'essential services', meaning they can come in to the state for work.

But it doesn't mean they get a pass on self-isolation.

New directives issued this week declare that international workers will still have to stay under quarantine for two weeks before starting work.

As for those coming from interstate, they will be required to quarantine if they have come from a declared 'coronavirus hotspot'.

While the state government has set the rules for travellers coming it Queensland, the federal government will be enforcing them.

Agriculture minister and member for Maranoa David Littleproud confirmed those not following correct COVID-19 precautions could have their visas cancelled.

"It's in the interest of all visa holders working in the regions to adhere to the rules as any breach of the visa requirement will mean the cancellation of their visa," he said.

More visa extensions have also been proposed for those who do follow regulations and wish to continue working in Australian agriculture.

Mr Littleproud said visa extensions will help bolster the industry nationwide, as well as the export market, during the coronavirus crisis.

"We are going to support Australian agriculture both at the farm gate and in agricultural processing," he said.

"We are extending the term in which visa holders under the holiday worker program, the Pacific Islander program, and the seasonal worker program can extend their visa by up to 12 months to support Australian agriculture."

Employees' six-month limitations on working for a single employer have also been lifted, which Mr Littleproud said will allow more flexibility.

"This is a critical time for our food security and out nation, but also to keep our export markets open; it is an important step and we have listened to farmers, but have also ensure we are doing this in a responsible way the meets health requirements."


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