Question on behalf of the citrus industry to minister for primary industries

3 March 2021

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:13): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister please inform the house as to when approval will be given by the government for the use of an appropriate quarantine facility in the Riverland for Pacific Island workers who seek to enter South Australia for the upcoming citrus season?

The Hon. D.K.B. BASHAM (Finniss—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:14): I thank the member for his important question. It's certainly a very challenging time, particularly for the citrus growers as we head into the picking season going into the next few months.

We are very much conscious of the needs of the workforce. As a government we have been doing many things to assist the horticultural industry, in particular, to make sure they are able to have the workforce they need. Thankfully, to this point in time we have been able to meet their needs. We have been able to get people out there working to make sure the fruit is being picked, that it has been picked.

We continue to go down that path. We are working with the federal government, which has the ability to get $6,000 grants to people to relocate to those regions to take up the opportunity to work in those regional areas. In relation to trying to find an avenue to get the Pacific Island workers in, it is very much a collaborative approach we are taking to work with both the federal government and the industry to make sure we meet their needs. It is certainly very challenging, and we have to work with Health and the police to make sure it is safe to do so.

We are very conscious of those needs and very conscious of making sure that South Australia is protected in this space, of making sure we are not putting anyone at risk if we do go down the path of proving a facility out in the regions, of making sure we are able to meet the needs of those who need the workforce but also to meet the needs of the regional communities themselves.

We continue to go down the path, looking at the different options and trying to establish a particular path to get these workers in. We are constantly and furiously working to try to get these workers in as soon as possible. It is a difficult situation, but we have to put the health of South Australians first and we need to listen to health advice. We will continue to work with Health and with the police to make sure we are able to deliver for those regional communities.