24 Jun 2008

East Timorese bid to join Pacific labour mobility scheme

3:30 pm on 24 June 2008

An advisor to East Timor's Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, says East Timorese should be included in the plan to bring Pacific workers into Australia.

Steve Bracks says East Timorese have a lot in common with countries such as Papua New Guinea, Solomons Islands and Fiji and it's also a country that needs Australian support and assistance.

Up to 5,000 workers from Pacific Island nations will be given special work visas allowing them to work on farms under the Federal Government plan expected to be approved by Cabinet soon.

East Timor is not included in the plan, but Mr Bracks, who is a former Victorian premier, warned that East Timorese youth faced 60 per cent unemployment in their homeland.

He says the crisis and uprising two years ago largely resulted from young people not seeing progress in the country.