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Hundreds more Pacific Islanders arrive in Australia to pick fruit

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Hundreds more Pacific Islanders arrive in Australia to pick fruit before it rots on the vines with no backpackers to collect them

  • A group of seasonal workers from the Pacific Island have arrived in Australia  
  • Nations can bypass travel bans to work on Aussie farms amid labour shortage
  • More than 1,500 overseas workers are being brought to Victoria in next month  

Another raft of international workers have bypassed coronavirus restrictions to travel to Australia and pick fruit on farms and get it to supermarkets before it spoils.  

Victoria’s farming industry will welcome more than 100 international workers over the next week to help manage this season’s harvest.

The workers, from the Pacific Islands, arrived in the state on Friday after completing 14 days in hotel quarantine in Tasmania.

The new workers will join a raft of East Timorese people who boarded an airplane (pictured) as in Dili in December 2020 to pick fruit in Australia

The new workers will join a raft of East Timorese people who boarded an airplane (pictured) as in Dili in December 2020 to pick fruit in Australia 

Pacific Island nations can bypass Australia's travel bans to work on farms (pictured) under a agreement between the countries

Pacific Island nations can bypass Australia’s travel bans to work on farms (pictured) under a agreement between the countries 

More workers will arrive in Victoria in the coming days as part of a planned, rolling schedule of arrivals which will get up to 1,500 Pacific Islanders working in the state’s farm sector.

‘This is a great example of what can be achieved when governments, industry and employers work together for the greater good of agriculture,’ Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said in a statement on Friday.

‘Our Pacific neighbours will be warmly welcomed on our farms from next week and will join local workers across the state as the harvest continues.’

The Victorian government thanked the workers for their ‘commitment and valuable contribution’ to the state.

A seasonal worker harvest oranges (pictured) on a NSW farm during the Covid travel bans in 2020

A seasonal worker harvest oranges (pictured) on a NSW farm during the Covid travel bans in 2020 

The agreement was reached due to the low Covid case number in most Pacific Island nations (pictured)

The agreement was reached due to the low Covid case number in most Pacific Island nations (pictured) 

Tasmania said it had worked side-by-side with its agricultural industry and other jurisdictions to minimise the impacts of the pandemic.

‘We’re working with industry to ensure our fruit is picked, our vegetables harvested, our meat is processed and our grapes are crushed this season, and in future seasons,’ Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said.

The deal was needed after Victoria forbid international flights from landing nearly two months ago.

That was in response to a hotel quarantine worker contracting the UK strain of coronavirus from travellers in a Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport.

Overseas flights are due to resume landing in Melbourne on Thursday.

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