4 Aug 2007

PNG's outgoing treasurer cannot understand Canberra's rejection of seasonal workers

9:37 am on 4 August 2007

Papua New Guinea's outgoing treasurer says he cannot understand why Canberra's rejected seasonal workers from the Pacific when Australian farmers want and need them.

Sir Rabbie Namaliu welcomed comments by the president of the World Bank, Bob Zoellick, who's said it's in Australia's interests to accept such guest worker schemes, which are critical to the long-term development of the South Pacific.

Canberra has rejected calls for seasonal migrants from the Pacific to be allowed to pick crops in Australia, despite labour shortages there.

In contrast, New Zealand has adopted a pilot scheme.

Sir Rabbie says labour mobility has the support of an Australian Senate inquiry, farming groups and rural communities.

He says incoming PNG government should pursue the matter through the Pacific Islands Forum.