Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has opened up on the forced quarantine of Vanuatu seasonal workers who arrived this week to help with the mango harvest.
Mr Littleproud said the issue could be sorted "with the stroke of a pen" so the workers could be allowed to isolate on farms and still work on the harvest.
Speaking to media yesterday, Mr Littleproud said the Commonwealth has pressed the NT Government to change its stance.
He said the NT's Chief Medical Officer had made a different decision to other states, such as Queensland.
" ... I just wish that the Chief Minister in NT might want to pick up the phone and talk to the Chief Medical Officer there, because they are the ones that set the conditions, not the Commonwealth Government," he said.
"All we do is approve the visas. We are approving the visas. The Queensland Government has come to us asking for visas to be approved to allow people to isolate on property and work at the same time - they will be approved.
"It's up to the Northern Territory Government to do this and I just wish that the Northern Territory Chief Minister would actually understand the responsibility. It's quite embarrassing that he actually hasn't quite understood what happened in National Cabinet.
"Either he was having a dream and wasn't actually listening or he simply doesn't understand. I think it's probably a mixture of both. But this isn't time for him to try and shirk his responsibility.
"This could be done by the stroke of a pen by his own Chief Medical Officer sitting up there in Darwin.
"He could pick up the phone, talk to them straight away, and that could be fixed.
"There's nothing the Commonwealth Government has around this. We will simply approve the visas. That's all our role is.
"The health quarantine arrangements has always been held by the states. And that's quite prevalent by the fact that Queensland's doing something different. We've seen something very different in Victoria. And so now the Northern Territorians have their own opportunity to do what they wish, with respect to quarantine.
"And so- you know, it's just sad and it's quite embarrassing and scary that the Northern Territory Government doesn't understand their own process.
"If their Chief Medical Officer, the Northern Territory Chief Medical Officer says that that is okay, it's okay with us.
"We approve the visas. But the medical arrangements around quarantine have and always pertain to the states. As we saw in Victoria where they were quarantining in hotels. And I'd say well thanks to Daniel Andrews, as we are now seeing in Queensland, where they are asking for a different arrangement because their Chief Medical Officer wants to sign off on a different arrangement.
"The Northern Territory can do exactly the same. So Michael Gunner is asleep at the wheel. Incompetent and probably, he doesn't understand his own process."
The NT allowed Sydney-siders to enter the Territory from last Friday and will allow the same quarantine exemption from New Zealand tomorrow.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday at 6am from the Katherine Times. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.