16 Sep 2005

Australia wants to recruit Fiji and Pacific soldiers

9:15 am on 16 September 2005

Australia has announced its intention to recruit experienced soldiers from Fiji and other Pacific Island countries in the face of a recruitment crisis within the country.

The Australian defence minister, Robert Hill, says are considering recruiting about 2,000 Pacific Islanders and has singled out Fiji as having as having soldiers with the required training and experience.

Mr Hill says if they wish to migrate to Australia and apply for work with the Australian Defence force, some of them would qualify very well.

He says their recruitment would continue to be predominantly domestic but want to get soldiers from elsewhere who add quality to the defence force.

A spokesman for Fiji's military, Lt Col Orisi Rabukawaqa, says the ADF pays very good salaries and could attract a significant number of soldiers from Fiji who are highly regarded around the world.

But, he says, Fiji has already lost some very good soldiers and could be losing more, putting a strain on its international peacekeeping obligations.

About 3,000 Fijians already serve in the British military, mostly in the army which carries out regular recruitment tests in Fiji.