Working backpackers are feeling “safer” in the Lockyer Valley during the depths of coronavirus. (File Image)
Working backpackers are feeling “safer” in the Lockyer Valley during the depths of coronavirus. (File Image)

Backpackers ‘safe’ in Lockyer during uncertain virus

BORDER restrictions have forced working backpackers to stay longer in the Lockyer, a labour hire provider has said.

Kingsley Harrison, who operates Kings Labour Hire, said when borders reopened last month, there was a considerable drop in the number of working backpackers in the region.

But since the borders have once again closed, Mr Harrison predicted backpackers would stay.

Mr Harrison said it was not uncommon for 457 working visa holders to “count down” their 88 days before moving to major cities.

But with travel restrictions in place, the attitude has changed.

“I know there’s quite a few that were commenting they did feel safe in the Lockyer,” he said.

“Once they started listening to the news and what’s happening in Melbourne, or back in their own town, they started to feel they were in a better location compared to the city.”

With the Lockyer at its peak for winter vegetable production working labour hire is in high demand.

But the border closures have restricted new backpackers coming to the region in search of work.

“Normally I’d get a heap of messages over the weekend with people looking for work. But last weekend I didn’t get one,” Mr Harrison said.

“It is a worry, but when I think back, we do get these waves every year.”

He said some farmers had cut back production due to water availability, in tern reducing labour hire needs.

On average, he supplies upwards of 80 people a day for on-farm work.

“It’s hard now with the water shortages and what mother nature throws at us,” Mr Harrison said.

“We are hoping people keep coming and the workers that keep coming get a good experience out of it.”