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Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association

Cattlemen slam decision to exclude industry agency by Department of Health - Call on NT to implement Pass system to improve productivity and maintain safety

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Press Release

The chief executive officer of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association Ashley Manicaros has slammed the decision by the Department of Health to remove the Department of Primary Industry & Resources from progressing Covid-19 applications.

Mr Manicaros said the NTCA had become aware today that DPIR would no longer play a key role in ensuring the applications put forward for exemptions and approvals met all of Health’s obligations to ensure the process ran smoothly.

He said instead DPIR, whose industry understanding has helped minimise the damage to the industry, has been removed meaning it will be a “lottery for approvals and timelines” for the one sector which has managed to keep 10,000 people directly and indirectly employed.

“The NT Government has barely managed to get on top of the delays, even with DPIR’s assistance and now this,” Mr Manicaros said.

“I don’t think it unreasonable to ask if the NT Government isn’t deliberately trying to make sure we suffer like other industries – why else would they make such a ridiculous decision?”

“The pastoral sector has not been consulted on this change to determine the impact or to allay any concerns which may be generated because of this change. The $1.2 billion pastoral sector has also not been consulted on the development of the Green Paper or the Economic Reconstruction Committee.”

“We welcome the establishment and were one of four groups which asked for something to be established but at this point it is hard not to believe it will act quick enough to get the 13,000 Territorians who will remain out of work after the end of June back to work.”

Mr Manicaros said the Northern Territory Government should introduce a Red and Amber Pass system like Queensland if it is not going to open its borders or ease restrictions to save jobs and keep people safe.

The Queensland  system is a risk assessment, based on where the applicant is travelling from, where they have been in the last 14 days and whether they are employed in the Queensland agribusiness/commercial fishing industries. They must present evidence at the border to support their entry pass.

Their system provides a rapid response to applicants who enter their details online and receive a coloured entry pass via email almost automatically. Mr Manicaros said NTCA members who have travelled to Qld have given excellent feedback on the system.

The Queensland system is a two pass system:

Red pass – Border patrol/Police can determine need for self-quarantine, when applicant arrives. Those with a red pass are mostly those who have been in a “hot spot”, for example urban areas like Brisbane where there have been more recent cases.

Amber pass – not required to self-quarantine. Almost all the people we have interacted with, who have been coming from Queensland to the NT, have been from rural or remote areas of Queensland where there have been zero cases of COVID19.

“I would propose NT adopts a similar “risk assessed” approach which would see these kinds of people from rural/remote areas of other states automatically able to enter the NT without the need for self-quarantine,” he said.

To be eligible for an entry pass in Queensland - Agribusiness employee applies online via the “entry pass” system.

  1. Selects Agribusiness/Commercial Fishing employee option
  2. Must have EVIDENCE of their employment. I.e. a letter of employment/contract (including their name, employers name & business address)
  3. Must not have travelled overseas in the last 14 days
  4. Must have EVIDENCE of where they have been living/working in that time. I.e. letter from employer, your business etc etc outlining that you have lived and worked at X for the last X time (14 days or more)
  5. Must not have been to a COVID19 hotspot in the last 14 days OR if they have, must have evidence from a health authority that you have self-quarantined prior to entry, or will commit to self-quarantining once you get to your destination

“A system similar to this would cancel out the ongoing difficulties with approval delays,” Mr Manicaros.

“Despite what the NT Government would have the broader public believe, the wait for NT DOH to allocate exemption applications continues to be upwards of two weeks … that is before the plans are even recommended for approval.”

Ends.

Contact:
Ashley Manicaros
Chief Executive Officer, NT Cattlemen’s Association
M: 0449922738

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