19 Apr 2006

Australia rejects Vanuatu labour mobility bid

8:24 pm on 19 April 2006

Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has again rejected calls for Canberra to issue temporary work permits for ni-Vanuatu workers.

Mr Downer says the Australian government does not want to exploit any ni-Vanuatu or create an environment where people from other countries could be treated as second-class people in Australia.

Mr Downer's comment was made in Port Vila when asked whether Canberra would allow people from Vanuatu to have seasonal work as fruit-pickers.

Politicians in Vanuatu have always insisted that Australia owes the people of Vanuatu so much after forcibly shipping about 30, 000 of their ancestors in the 19th century to sugar cane plantations of Queensland.