27 Oct 2005

Fiji's PM disappointed at labour mobility rejection

10:03 pm on 27 October 2005

Fiji's prime minister has expressed extreme disappointment with Australia and New Zealand for rejecting the employment of unskilled labour from Fiji on short term work schemes.

Laisenia Qarase was speaking to Radio Fiji at the end of this week's Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea at which island leaders agreed to the Pacific Plan drawn up by Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Qarase said island leaders have always been pushing for temporary employment of their unskilled labour when there is a demand in the two countries.

He says he is extremely disappointed at the refusal of Australia and New Zealand to agree to such a scheme for labour mobility.

Mr Qarase says the demand for unskilled labour in the two countries is such that visitors there are being employed illegally.

He says a labour mobility scheme would have put things on a proper arrangement that is legally recognised.

Mr Qarase has rejected claims by Australia and New Zealand that island visitors stay illegally in the two countries after the expiry of their visas.

He says that is looking at island people in a very negative light because there will always be a few people will break the rules but if there is properly managed scheme, it will minimise the opportunity for abuse.

Earlier, Fiji's labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, accused Australia and New Zealand of double standards for employing temporary workers from Europe but not those from Fiji.

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre accused the two countries of racism in not allowing dark-skinned people from the Pacific access to their unskilled labour markets.