28 Mar 2008

Australia flags pilot programme to allow Pacific workers to seek temporary jobs in Australia

7:32 am on 28 March 2008

Australia's government has flagged a move toward a pilot programme to allow island workers to seek temporary jobs in Australia.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr, said the government was committed to ongoing discussions with island nations on allowing workers in to take up seasonal work, such as fruit picking.

Mr Kerr said the government was keen to learn from New Zealand, which already has a programme in place.

He said the government would like to test the demand for labour and receptiveness to a pilot program in various parts of Australia.

Mr Kerr said the jobs of Australians would remain protected under any scheme which was implemented.

He also emphasised the importance of developing trade within the region.

He said the government remained committed to working toward a comprehensive free trade agreement.

He said freeing up the flow of goods, services and investment in the region will be a vital route out of poverty.