6 Jul 2010

PNG expected to endorse fruit-picking pilot scheme in Australia for PNG locals

10:26 am on 6 July 2010

Papua New Guinea is this week expected to endorse an agreement for its people to work in a fruit-picking pilot scheme launched in Australia two years ago.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is due to arrive at Alotau, Milne Bay Province, in Papua New Guinea's eastern tip tomorrow for the annual Australia and PNG ministers' forum.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said the meeting will discuss and advance key issues of bilateral concern.

The forum will focus on the beleaguered aid program under which Australia has spent over 335 million US dollars a year over the past decade.

As outlined in the recent PNG-Australia Development Cooperation Treaty review, PNG has called for an overhaul of Australian-supplied aid, especially the role of ineffective and highly paid consultants.

Australia has modelled its pilot fruit picking scheme on the New Zealand seasonal workers scheme.