13 Nov 2008

Tonga to provide 800 workers to Australian workers' scheme

2:37 pm on 13 November 2008

Tonga is to provide one third of the workers in the initial stages of Australia's labour mobility scheme trial.

The Australian scheme, to provide labour for horticulture from early next year, will initially allow in up to 2,500 workers from Tonga, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

The Matangi Tonga website reports that 800 Tongan seasonal workers will go to Australia in July.

Tonga's Minister for Labour, Lisiate 'Akolo, says the Tongan workers will get jobs in Swan Hill, Victoria and in Griffith in New South Wales, picking almonds, onions, potatoes and other produce.

He says a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed in Canberra later this month.

Under the new scheme, Vanuatu will also send 800 workers, with Papua New Guinea providing 650 and Kiribati 250.