16 Nov 2018

Australia to expand labour scheme to all Pacific countries

7:25 am on 16 November 2018
RSE workers from Samoa working in Bostock orchard, Hastings.

Seasonal workers from Samoa working at an orchard in Hastings, New Zealand. Australia on Thursday announced the expansion of its labour scheme for Pacific islanders. Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

Australia will expand its Pacific Labour Scheme to all Pacific Island countries, starting with Tonga.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and foreign minister Marise Payne say the current cap of 2-thousand places will be lifted, although the new limit is not a given.

Talks to allow Papua New Guinea to join the scheme have also been confirmed.

Australia will also establish a new Pacific office within its foreign ministry.

"Other agencies including the Australian Federal Police, Defence, Department of Home Affairs and Attorney-General's Department will be invited to provide secondments to the Office to help better coordinate our efforts to develop even closer ties across the region," Mr Morrison and Ms Payne said in a joint statement.