31 Oct 2007

NZ and Australia urged to open hospitality and construction industries to Pacific islanders

1:18 pm on 31 October 2007

An economist from Fiji says New Zealand should open its hospitality and construction industries to temporary workers from the Pacific.

Professor Biman Prasad, the Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara Visiting Fellow at the University of Otago, says New Zealand and Australia's reluctance to accept more low-skilled Pacific workers is short-changing Pacific nations.

He says New Zealand's new seasonal scheme allowing up to five thousand Pacific workers into the horticulture industry each year is a positive change.

But Dr Prasad says it's not nearly enough.

"New Zealand gets about 40,000 guest workers from Europe and other places. I think there is a possibility of opening up to other sectors as well, for example services and construction and other areas where low-skilled workers are needed."

Dr Prasad says larger Pacific nations are dealing with new trade rules and restructuring their economies, and they need New Zealand and Australia's support.