2 Sep 2015

Tonga strengthens oversight after seasonal workers abscond

9:22 am on 2 September 2015

The Tonga Government is changing the way workers are selected for the Australia seasonal work programme after it estimated several hundred have absconded since the scheme began.

The Internal Affair Minister, Fe'ao Vakata says one contractor told him 74 of his workers had disappeared before the contract was up and he estimated that of 1400 Tongans in total across Australia about 300 had gone.

He says he suspects they are now overstaying.

Mr Vakata says at the moment contractors can come to Tonga and recruit their workers with no government oversight but this will now change.

"We will recruit from the villages and if the contractors come with their own list we still have to take them back to the villages, to the town officers and the council, to confirm that they know the person, he is genuine and reliable, he will not abscond, be a good worker and try and give Tonga workers a good name."