Published by The Border Watch
By Sandra Morello
BORDER CHECKPOINT: Limestone Coast Police continue to monitor several key routes across the region - including at Mount Gambier's eastern gateway to ensure motorists are adhering to State Government directives. Picture: TODD LEWIS
Agriculture and forestry sectors avoid restrictions
THE forestry industry has welcomed news its operations will not be swept up in updated border restriction rules implemented earlier this week.
While these new rules initially triggered “confusion” at the border control station, these measures were tweaked to ensure the smooth running of the region’s agricultural and forestry sector.
It is understood workers in these sectors - which cross the border and are part of the cross-border community - will not need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
But the forestry sector is seeking clarity whether the new measures will affect seasonal tree planters for the commercial plantation industry.
Seasonal workers are no longer classified as essential workers in a bid to further strengthen the state’s borders against the coronavirus.
Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said the initial change in border rules triggered confusion among the agricultural sector.
He revealed he received a flurry of phone calls from agricultural related workers, including stock agents.
Mr Bell said he urgently held discussions with relevant State Government ministers, which had now clarified the situation and amended the criteria.
“This was designed to prevent fruit pickers and the casual workforce that moves across the country without self-isolating,” Mr Bell said.
“Unfortunately, it encapsulated the cross-border community members who will not need to isolate.”
He said the border changes would not affect transport and freight sector.
Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub executive general manager Liz McKinnon said it was “business as usual” for forestry workers crossing the border.
The forestry sector advocate met with PIRSA officials on Tuesday given the uncertainty and number of “hiccups” at the border checking station.
Ms McKinnon said she was grateful the State Government and PIRSA had listened to the concerns of the forestry industry and responded swiftly.
“The government has been proactive in keeping the forestry industry running as efficiently as normal and keeping trucks moving,” she said.
But she said the industry was seeking clarification how the measures would affect seasonal tree planters.
“These workers will need to dart across the border,” Ms McKinnon said.
The forestry leader revealed this would potentially affect 160 workers.
Australian Forest Products Association state manager Leon Rademeyer said the updated emergency management cross border travel direction - regarding the definition of an ‘essential cross-border traveller - caused temporary confusion among some forestry workers.
“The misunderstanding was resolved within hours and did not impact on forest industries activities,” Mr Rademeyer said.
“All forest industry cross-border movements continue as specified under current COVID-19 restrictions, including road freight.”
Mr Rademeyer said the association was in ongoing consultation with State Government regarding the latest COVID-19 developments and possible amendments to restrictions.
“This includes the status of seasonal workers wanting to travel to SA,” he said.
According to information released by SA Police, seasonal workers will be required to self-quarantine for a 14-day period before beginning work in South Australia.
People entering South Australia - who work in primary and agricultural industries - will be classed as essential travellers provided they fall in these categories:
• Transport or freight services
• Skills critical to maintaining key industries or business
• Specialists required for industry, business continuity and maintenance
• Persons responsible for maintenance of critical infrastructure
• Persons who live or work in SA and travel for work regularly
• Cross border community members
• Under the new direction, an essential traveller must now keep records of close contacts for a 14 day period.
Beginning on their arrival in SA
• These measures are excluded for:
• National and State security and governance
• Persons who primarily reside or work in SA and travel regularly for work purposes
• Emergency services workers
• Cross border community members