14 Oct 2009

Australia says labour mobility key to Pacific's economic future

7:13 am on 14 October 2009

The Australian Government is promising labour mobility from Pacific countries into Australia is part of the long term solution to the region's economic difficulties.

The aid agency, AusAID's report, called the Pacific Economic Survey 2009 - engaging with the world, says Pacific countries can strengthen their economies through greater trade diversification, labour mobility and by cutting their reliance on oil.

The Australian parliamentary secretary for international development assistance, Bob McMullan, who launched the report in Tonga, concedes an Australian pilot labour scheme started this year has had difficulties, but he says the idea of labour mobility will be a major part of the region's future.

"It's going to be part of the global future for the 21st century I think. Our particular pilot scheme in the horticulture industry is running into the obvious problem - with the global economic crisis, the demand for labour is significantly down - we can't bring people in for jobs that don't exist, but it is part of the long term solution, even if it is proceeding very slowly at the moment."