The Australia Governments commitment to the South Pacific has reached a whole new level and amidst recent alleged Chinese presence in the Pacific, the PMs Office in Canberra has announced: “Pacific labor mobility is a priority for Australia and for our partners in the Pacific.”
Clearly identifying that small things matter, a statement by the Australian Government breathes new incentives into its partnership with the island nations.
The Australian Government says it will “progressively roll out the Pacific Labour Scheme across all Pacific island countries. Currently open to six Pacific countries, Tonga will be the next country to join the Pacific Labour Scheme.”
Australia will also discuss with Papua New Guinean counterparts a pathway for Papua New Guinea to join the scheme and the PNG invite alone does say a lot about Australia’s intentions for the Pacific Nations.
Not only is Australia adding PNG to the scheme, but also lifting the current cap of 2,000 places which will mean it will be providing more opportunities for Pacific workers to undertake non-seasonal work for up to three years.
“Uncapping the Scheme builds on the success of the uncapped Seasonal Worker Programme, which has enabled more than 28,000 job opportunities for Pacific workers in Australia since 2012.”
The PMs statement also assured Australian farming businesses that “these measures will help farmers and regional communities get the workers they need when they need them.
Australia will continue to prioritize the Pacific to help fill jobs where Australian workers are not able to do so.
The Australian Government will also establish a new Office of the Pacific in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to enhance whole-of-government coordination.
The Office of the Pacific will have increased resourcing and will support Australian efforts to develop even closer ties with Pacific governments and regional organizations, including the Pacific Islands Forum.
Other agencies including the Australian Federal Police, Defence, Department of Home
Affairs and Attorney-General’s Department will be invited to provide secondments to the Office to help better coordinate our efforts to develop even closer ties across the region.