19 Aug 2008

Competition from Australia for rural workers

9:02 am on 19 August 2008

The head of the horticulture industry body says he is "a little disappointed" at Australia's decision to seek Pacific Island workers from some of the same countries as New Zealand.

Australia has made 2,500 visas available to workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in the horticulture sector for up to seven months in any 12-month period, in order to help with rural labour shortages

New Zealand's recognised seasonal employer scheme draws workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tuvalu.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock says despite the competition to source labour from some of the same countries, he thinks there will still be plenty of workers available.

He says the Australian and New Zealand governments need to exchange information to ensure the schemes are operating efficiently.