9 Dec 2009

Australia called on to do more to ensure Pacific labour scheme works

9:45 pm on 9 December 2009

The Australian Council for International Development says the Federal Government needs to make a commitment to ensure its Pacific seasonal labour scheme works.

A draft scheme is in its second year but to date there are just a handful workers in the country.

Mark Purcell, the Council's executive director, says this is due to the global economic crisis and more locals being willing to do orchard work.

But Mr Purcell says the scheme is highly important to Pacific countries and there's a need for senior politicians to turn their attention to it because of its importance to the discussions on closer economic relations.

"Pacific Islands countries very much want labour mobility schemes, pilot schemes of this nature to become permanent and to be expanded. And so there is an interest from all stake holders in seeing this pilot scheme succeed and it would be great shame if it was to fail."