21 Dec 2011

Australia to tread carefully over extended seasonal job programme

8:03 pm on 21 December 2011

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, says Australia will tread carefully to ensure Pacific Island countries don't lose out in a new seasonal employment scheme for the tourism industry.

Australia is extending a pilot project to tourism operators around the country because the sector is short of 36 thousand workers due to stiff competition from mining.

From next July there will be 1,500 seasonal jobs available in a four-year trial to Pacific Island workers in cane and cotton farming, aquaculture and tourism.

Mr Marles says it's important to get the settings right so tourism in the Pacific is not compromised.

"One of the real benefits of this scheme is that when people come to do the work in Australia they do develop skills on the job and they do get training on the job and they go back to their home countries with a much greater skill base than when they arrive."

Richard Marles says the pilot scheme will work alongside a permanent scheme for horticulture which will provide ten and a half thousand seasonal jobs for workers from Pacific Island countries.