NSW Makes Plea to Qld Over Agricultural Workers

NSW Makes Plea to Qld Over Agricultural Workers
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a press conference in Homebush in Sydney, Australia on Aug. 17, 2020. (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

The NSW government has accused Queensland of playing politics over its refusal to allow agricultural workers to move freely between the two states.

Queensland on Sept 4 agreed at national cabinet to aim to reopen its borders by Christmas.

However, together with Tasmania and Western Australia, the state declined to endorse a national agriculture code which would deem agricultural work an essential service.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the code was crucial for Australia's agricultural sector after years of drought were succeeded by a bumper harvest this year.

She again implored Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to revise her hardline position on borders, saying Australia's eastern states are "inextricably linked" and needed to cooperate.

"We're Australians as well as people who live in NSW," Berejiklian said on Friday.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall was less diplomatic in his criticism of the states that declined to sign up.

"What we have seen today is an abject failure of leadership from those first ministers," he said in a statement on Friday.

"Politics has been allowed to trump common sense and our nation's agricultural industry has been grossly let down as a result."

NSW will forge ahead with the code anyway, working with Victoria, South Australia and the Commonwealth to allow agricultural workers to move freely between the southeastern states.

The spat between Berejiklian and her northern counterpart over the border intensified this week, after the Queensland government declared it won't change its border regulations until NSW passes 28 consecutive days without COVID-19 community transmission.

Berejiklian says it's an impossible ask.

Meanwhile in NSW, eight new cases were recorded on Friday, forcing another Sydney school to shut.

With Father's Day on Sunday, NSW Health also advised against visiting Sydney, Blue Mountains or Central Coast aged care homes over the weekend.

By Tiffanie Turnbull in Sydney