Victorian farmers and harvest contractors fear strict border closures will cripple the nation’s harvest this year, unless special agriculture permits are offered to streamline interstate travel.
Strict border closures along Victoria’s borders with New South Wales and South Australia are fuelling fears of cost increases and food shortages if supply chain issues across state borders aren’t fixed.
The SA Government will impose further restrictions along the Victorian border from August 21, while farmers and harvest contractors are facing massive barriers accessing NSW at harvest time due to restrictions forcing travel via Sydney airport.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said unworkable barriers to interstate travel risked putting the brakes on the food supply chain.
“Victorian border communities are riding a rollercoaster of tightening restrictions that are making it impossible to access farms, education, hospitals and essential products and services,” Mr Walsh said.
“The uncertainty has pushed tensions high and left families and businesses along the border at their wits’ end trying to keep up.
“We’ve been making sure to comply with public health rules but Daniel Andrews’ failure to stop COVID outbreaks in Melbourne is seeing other states put in barriers that stop us going about our daily life.”
The agriculture sector is pushing for special permits to streamline access for farmers and the agriculture supply chain.
“If Victorian farmers and contractors who migrate north each year for NSW harvest can’t get exemptions to travel interstate – without going via Sydney – NSW farmers will be strapped for resources to get harvest off in time,” Mr Walsh said.
“Border communities rely on each other to survive. I’m working closely with my interstate counterparts to fix the problems but we need the Andrews Labor Government to come to the party.”