24 Oct 2005

PCRC says Australia and NZ policy on temporary work schemes is racist

4:11 pm on 24 October 2005

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre has accused New Zealand and Australia of racism in not allowing Pacific islands people to enter the two countries on temporary work schemes.

PCRC coordinator Adi Ema Tagicakibau says after fighting two world wars together, participating in joint military exercises, sports and business ventures and being members of the Forum, Pacific people still have to undergo rigorous screening to get a visa.

Adi Ema says despite the efforts made by Fiji's foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola, for a possible work scheme in the two countries, there has been no positive response from Australia and New Zealand.

She says "a legacy of colonial racist policies seen to be discriminatory towards dark-skinned people could be a factor in the difficulty Pacific people face in gaining access to these wo countries."

Adi Ema says while it is easy for Australians and New Zealanders to get visas on their arrival in Pacific countries, islanders have to pay increasing fees they can hardly afford and beg for visas.

She says both New Zealand and Australia are direct beneficiaries of conflicts in the region through brain gain.