24 Oct 2005

NZ prime minister hints possible easing of Pacific labour movement restrictions

4:18 pm on 24 October 2005

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, says her government may change its stance on the temporary mobility of labour in the Pacific.

Pacific Island countries will be looking for concessions on this issue at this week's leaders' summit in Port Moresby, but New Zealand and Australia have been opposed to short term work visas.

Miss Clark told the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce that New Zealand has traditionally supported permanent migration but is willing to talk with Pacific Islands Governments and New Zealand companies on what can be done.

"But we would need to have clear understandings about this not leading to a rise in the population of illegals, because where that happens you get people living completely under the threshold of acceptable conditions with exploitation in employment and of course with no access to the normal health and other benefits which go with living in a first world society. So they are some of the issues we would have to look at very carefully."