Growers’ e-bulletin – 26 March, 2020


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March 26, 2020


COVID-19 (coronavirus) financial support for growers 

Managing workers

Agriculture declared essential service 

Update on border closure exemptions 


COVID-19 (coronavirus) financial support for growers

In wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Australian Government has implemented a stimulus package to cushion the economic impact. 

Small and medium business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible for assistance. 

Eligibility will generally be based on prior year turnover. 

In brief: 

  • The payment will be calculated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).  

  • No forms are required. 

  • Payment will be delivered by the ATO as a credit in the activity statement system from 28 April, 2020, after employers have lodged their activity statements.   

  • Where account is in credit, ATO will refund within 14 days. 

  • Payments will only be available to active eligible employers established prior to 12 March, 2020. 

  • Businesses must continue to be active. 

  • Eligible businesses that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $50,000. 

  • Eligible businesses that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $10,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax. 

  • Growers should consider seeking professional advice from their accountant and/or financial advisor.

For detailed information on the Australian Government’s economic response: 


Australian Government

Australian Tax Office 

Disclaimer: This information is current at the time of publishing.


Managing workers

As backpackers and other overseas seasonal workers make up a large portion of our industry’s on-farm workforce,  managing workers through the coronavirus pandemic is going to be critical.

While growers can implement on farm the rules and guidelines set out by authorities to slow the spread of the virus, the behaviour of workers once they finish work and return to their accommodation may require further management.

Growers have a duty of care to all staff to reinforce the key actions designed to slow the spread of the virus. Equally, it’s in the backpackers best interest to do the same, otherwise they risk not working.

Growers also need to be mindful of new backpackers in their areas, especially those who have had to resort to their own shared housing (as most hostels are not taking new residents). These backpackers, with a range of first languages, sometimes do not have a good understanding of English and may not be fully aware of the current government coronavirus rules.

To this end, the ABGC has asked the Queensland Government to develop and distribute  posters and pamphlets on measures including sanitising hands and social distancing, and that they be distributed to these people in banana towns in the languages they understand best  (Japanese, Korean, French, Taiwanese, Italian and Mandarin).


Agriculture declared an essential service

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud yesterday announced that food production and supply is an essential service. 

“Maintaining food production, access to workers, agricultural supply lines, transportation and logistics is absolutely critical and will not be affected by any of the measures aimed at curbing the virus’s spread,” he said. 

“That means State-imposed border shutdowns will not affect agricultural supply chains. 

“We’ve got plenty of supply and the freight lanes across the country are being kept clear. 

Read the full media release here


Update on border closure exemptions

The Queensland Government clarified late yesterday that freight and locals in agribusiness are exempt from the Queensland border shut down (effective midnight 25 March, 2020), which means banana trucks and locals involved in the banana industry (and other agriculture) near the border can continue their business and employment.

Read more here



Contact Details
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:

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.