18 Aug 2008

Australia announces pilot Pacific labour mobility scheme

1:02 pm on 18 August 2008

Australia has announced details of a three-year pilot seasonal workers' scheme which will see Pacific Islanders take up work in horticulture.

Visas will be available to 2,500 workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia for up to seven months in any 12-month period.

The first group will arrive later this year, with the programme to be reviewed in 18 months.

Such access to the Australian labour market has been a long-standing demand of Pacific Forum countries.

The previous Australian government rejected the approach, saying it didn't want to create an environment where people from other countries could be treated as second-class people.

New Zealand has a seasonal labour scheme operating for Pacific Islanders.

The labour mobility schemes have the support of the World Bank.