27 Jan 2006

Australia government advised to open unskilled Pacific migration window

8:54 am on 27 January 2006

A report commissioned by the Federal government has found that Australia must accept thousands of unskilled migrants from the Pacific islands to save those countries from economic ruin.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the study taskforce, headed by Professor Ron Duncan of the University of the South Pacific, says the need to expand migration opportunities to Pacific islands is "urgent" given the rapid population growth.

The report found Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu were the economies most in need of a migration fix, although Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu also faced economic problems.

Prime Minister John Howard last year rejected a request from Pacific island leaders to allow seasonal workers into Australia, arguing that it would create a new pool of visa overstayers.

The aid report says the study group is "deeply concerned about the future of the Pacific".