STUCK: Carolina Herrera, 27, from Uruguay and Manuel Ferreyra, 33, from Argentina Photo: Scott Powick
STUCK: Carolina Herrera, 27, from Uruguay and Manuel Ferreyra, 33, from Argentina Photo: Scott Powick

Backpackers stranded after being turned away at the border

AN INTERNATIONAL couple face an uncertain future after they were unable to secure work on the Granite Belt.

The South American pair are now holed up in Tweed after being refused entry to Queensland and Stanthorpe.

Manuel Ferreyra from Argentina and his partner, Carolina Herrera from Uruguay, have been on a working holiday in Australia for the past six months.

Mr Ferreyra said they attempted to cross the Queensland border at Wallangarra to source work, but were turned around.

"Our goal was trying to cross into Queensland for her (Ms Herrera) to do farm or hospitality work for three months and then she can extend her visa," Mr Ferreyra said.

Plane ticket prices skyrocketed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, making it tough for them to afford a return home.

Allowing itinerant workers on the Granite Belt has become a hot topic of late.

Granite Belt Growers Association president Angus Ferrier said they should be made to feel welcome, but only if they'd prearranged work before arriving.

"We want them to have an eye on their job prospects," Mr Ferrier said.

"We don't want them just rocking up and filling the main street up.

"We want them to come here for a reason."

While seasonal workers have been allowed to extend their visas due to the impacts of coronavirus, they now need to self-isolate for 14 days before they can work in a new region.

Workers will be forced to apply for a permit, and have approved accommodation and confirmation of work before they can proceed.

"Queensland becomes the food bowl for the rest of Australia during the winter season," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

"Seasonal work is very important for our regions, with people coming to do the harvest, which is really important for a whole range of fruit and vegetables.

"But we want to make sure that our seasonal workers are abiding to COVID-safe measures."

Mr Ferreyra said if international workers weren't properly supported, there would be a new pandemic - homelessness.

"In six months, hundreds of people, we will all be homeless," he said.

"Nobody wants that situation … but without money in this world, you can't do anything."

Stanthorpe Border Post


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