Taxpayers pay $5300 to quarantine each farm worker as Aussies lay stranded

The way our governments treat Australians stranded abroad is a disgrace.

19 months on from the pandemic and there are still tens-of-thousands of Australians stuck overseas and unable to return home due to: 1) prohibitive arrivals caps and quarantine limits; and 2) extortionately expensive airfares and quarantine costs.

For more than a year we have witnessed our state and federal governments bicker over arrival numbers, quarantine costs, and whether quarantine should be moved from city hotels to the regions. Meanwhile, Australians stranded abroad are watching on in dismay wondering if they’ll ever come home.

In the ultimate insult, our governments have established special subsidised quarantine arrangements for migrant fruit pickers.

That’s right, while the Victorian Government has tightly restricted and regularly banned overseas arrivals into Melbourne as it grapples with regular COVID outbreaks, it paid the Tasmanian Government $7.8 million to quarantine 1,500 migrant fruit pickers:

The Victorian Government will… cover most of the cost associated with quarantining up to 1,500 Pacific Islander workers under its partnership with Tasmania through a $7.8 million funding commitment, with industry contributing $2,000 per worker.

This support package, developed in consultation with industry, will help address the barriers faced by farm businesses in attracting the local workforce that is crucial to this season’s harvest, while also keeping the costs to industry to a minimum.

A fortnight ago, Victoria’s agricultural industry called for more special favours:

The Victorian government cut a deal in March to bring 1500 Pacific workers to Tasmania to quarantine before travelling over Bass Strait to work on Victorian farms. More than 1300 have arrived to date, but there are no arrangements in place to bring in more workers between October and March, when most horticulture crops are harvested…

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud wrote to his Victorian counterpart Mary-Anne Thomas on Tuesday, urging her to renew the existing scheme – a plan he said had already been endorsed by the Tasmanian government.

“As labour demands for agricultural work in Victoria are expected to peak in October, I encourage the Victorian government to provide certainty for industry by extending this arrangement as soon as possible,” Mr Littleproud said.

And the Victorian Government has dutifully agreed, with taxpayers to pay $5300 for each migrant fruit picker:

Victoria will get an extra 1500 Pacific Islander workers to fill shortages on farms…

Victorian Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the workers were in addition to 1500 employees from the region arranged through negotiations with the Tasmanian government early this year.

The Pacific Islanders are expected to arrive by March. The state government will contribute $5300 towards the quarantine costs for each worker, while farmers will pay $2000.

Meanwhile, the Morrison Governments new Agricultural Visa will allow regional businesses to import indentured migrant labour from 1o South East Asian nations, with these workers qualifying for permanent residency if they commit to working for three years.

Having stranded Australians return to their own country is clearly less important to our governments than providing farms with cheap migrant labour, subsidised by the taxpayer.

Why aren’t these quarantine facilities being used to house actual Australians desperate to return home? Why aren’t actual Australians being given priority? And why are returning Australians being forced to wear the full costs of their quarantine when taxpayers are subsiding the costs of migrant fruit pickers?

Quarantine facilities and flights should be used first and foremost to return stranded Australians.

When foreign fruit pickers carry more political weight than returning Australians, you know our governments have lost their moral compass.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. ALP and LNP working hand in hand, what a lovely display of selfless bi-partisanship. It’s about time we put politics behind us and got on with running the country for the people!

      • Exactly! While the RBA can print as much is it wants we still need to cover most of it eventually with a productive economy, but fruit pickers would do the opposite compared to automation

        • Lord DudleyMEMBER

          Automation? What un-Australian madness is this? Australia got rid of its ability to automate anything. Therefore, all automation must come from foreign companies. Most likely anti-Australian companies that hire unionised labour like John Deere or General Motors. Australia can’t have these communist companies sponging off the government. Automation is un-Australian!

  2. C'est de la folieMEMBER

    The treatment of stranded Australians is, and remains, an utter disgrace.

    My view is that one of these – and for sure they are being treated like lepers wherever they are, are last in line wherever they are for any vaccines, are being gouged for airline places, and then being clipped for quarantine places while people from elsewhere are getting their quarantine paid for them by Australian authorities – should get back into Australia and sue the Federal government for mental health and depression related issues stemming from their treatment.  I understand others are also thinking that there is a Human rights case to be had.

    • Frank DrebinMEMBER

      Meh they are all multi-millionaires who just want to come to Australia to visit Mum and spread their diseases everywhere. They should actually all be stripped of their Aussie citizenships and then the problem would be solved.

      This include the Defence Force guys who served their country in Afghanistan and who now cannot get back into Qld. We should thank them for their service and dismiss them.

      The risk in allowing citizens back into their own country is too great.

    • Lord DudleyMEMBER

      “The treatment of stranded Australians is, and remains, an utter disgrace.”

      Yup. And the average Australian DOESN’T CARE. About 30% of them see us as splitters who betrayed the best nation in the world™ by leaving it (after all, love it or leave it is their slogan). Another 20% or more see us as a bumbling group of fools who are willfully swanning around the world for pleasure during a pandemic.

      Don’t underestimate how brain-meltingly stupid the Australian populace is. For those who think Americans are on-average thick-as-two-short-planks, I can guarantee you that the average Australian is just as bad, if not worse.

  3. Australians get the government they deserve.

    The ONLY thing to do is vote independent at the next federal election.

    By independent I don’t mean PHON or the United Clive Palmer Party – these are just LNP stooges.

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