With concerns around availability of seasonal workers in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, ABGC has been actively lobbying Federal Government Ministers and Senators to request urgent extension of those currently in Australia on working holiday (417) visas, work and holiday (462) visas and Seasonal Worker Program (403) visas.
We are expecting a positive announcement within the next 48 hours for visa extensions for backpacker and Seasonal Worker Program workers.
In the meantime, visa holders must apply for a new visa before their current visa expires. They may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will keep them lawful until a decision is made on the visa extension. Find out more here.
ABGC will continue to update growers on any outcomes of these discussions as they come to hand.
Freight exempt in Queensland border closure
From midnight tomorrow (Wednesday, 25 March) Queensland will restrict access at its border, in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Queensland Government has declared freight exempt under the tough new border control measures, along with emergency vehicles, emergency workers, those travelling to and from work, court orders, compassionate grounds and medical treatment.
Read the Government’s full media statement here
Growers are reminded that the ABGC website has a list of links to government and industry resources to help protect you, yourself and your workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.
The ABGC Employee and Workplace Guide provides useful information on issues such as workplace hygiene practices, reporting illnesses and virus symptoms, along with resources covering workplace health and safety, employee entitlements and Workcover.
Industry meetings on the future of Panama TR4 cancelled
In light of COVID-19 and the government restrictions regarding events to limit the spread of the virus, the industry meetings planned for 1 April (Tully), 2 April (Innisfail) and 3 April (Mareeba) have been cancelled.
These meetings were to give growers a chance to find out how the industry funding of the Panama TR4 Program will be managed and to ask any questions about the future of Panama TR4 in Far North Queensland.
Now that we cannot do that in person, Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) and Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) want to know how you would like to receive that information.
Please fill out this short 3 question survey so we can best keep you informed.
If you have any questions, contact Sarah Flenley, BQ, on 07 4091 8159 or email [email protected] Sonia Campbell, ABGC, on 0428 038 330 or email [email protected]
Panama TR4 surveillance and COVID-19
The Panama TR4 Program is making sure staff are informed of best practice hygiene as advised by Queensland Health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this stage, surveillance teams continue to visit farms to check for signs of Panama TR4.
Hygiene processes have been increased to ensure the health and safety of both BQ workers and farm workers.
The Consent for Entry form which is usually signed by the grower will now be taken as an audio recording.
A copy of the audio file can be made available if requested.
If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Flenley, Principal Engagement Officer on 0400 867 264 or email [email protected] or Donna Campagnolo, Operations Manager on 0476 846 793 or [email protected]
Cancellation of Feast of the Senses
Innisfail’s Feast of the Senses has been postponed due to the evolving risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee has advised that it will continue to monitor the situation and if, and when able, a new date will be announced.
It is important that ABGC is advised if you know of growers who are not receiving these e-bulletins or the Australian Banana magazine. We may have out of date email or postal addresses for these growers. Please email any updated contact details to:[email protected]
Also, it is important for membership purposes that growers advise ABGC if they change trading name or their agent (wholesaler) or add one, and also to let their agent know.