24 Oct 2005

Further calls from Forum for short term work permits for Australia and New Zealand

8:24 am on 24 October 2005

The incoming chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, wants relations between the countries in the region to move to a more mature level.

He says this would be helped by Australia and New Zealand giving more trade access to the Pacific.

The theme of this year's Forum summit, which gets underway tomorrow afternoon, is Towards a Prosperous Future.

He says PNG wants to become less aid dependent and part of the solution would be to expand trade opportunities with Australia and New Zealand.

Sir Michael says there would also be gains for both the larger countries if they allowed in workers from the islands on short term work permits.

"Pacific Island young people, most of them, speak English, read and write in English and they can converse well and I think Australia and New Zealand ,being in proximity to our respective islands, there should be an opportunity to lead us along the development."