29 Sep 2005

Australian Opposition launches far reaching Pacific policy

8:23 pm on 29 September 2005

The Australian Labour Party has proposed a new vision for the Pacific, including a regional parliament, court and common market, freer movement of workers and widespread adoption of Australian currency.

While the Pacific Community idea has not as yet been adopted as party policy, Labor says the themes of its discussion paper, released today, have already won widespread support among island nations and key players in Australasia.

The paper, if translated into policy, would initially allow 5,000 Pacific Islanders into Australia to be employed as guest workers, mainly in farming operations.

This would be expanded to 10,000 after five years.

Labour's overseas aid and Pacific island affairs spokesman Bob Sercombe announced the plan surrounded by Papua New Guinean dancers and singers at parliament house.

He criticised the federal government approach to Pacific affairs and says Labour's new policy is a new direction for Australia's Pacific policy,.

Mr Sercombe says it is about Australia living up to its potential as a good neighbour.