Pacific countries to benefit more from Australia’s seasonal workers programme

Australia's seasonal worker programme continues to deliver significant gains to Pacific countries with around 8,500 Pacific Islanders taking advantage of the programme to date.

That’s over and above those who came to Australia under the earlier seasonal worker pilot programme, said Minister for Trade and Investment, Senator Richard Colbeck.

“We are in the process of negotiating an updated seasonal worker programme MOU with participant countries and we will sign an updated MOU with the Solomon Islands, and we're very pleased to be doing that.

“As you are aware we have also uncapped the seasonal worker programme. The accommodation sector has been folded in and Northern Australian tourism industry has been invited to apply to join the programme on a trial basis,” Senator Colbeck told Pacific Trade Ministers that attended the PACER PLUS meeting in Brisbane this week. 

On the 08 February Australia announced the expansion of the programme to cattle, sheep, grain and mixed enterprises. 

“And I can say to you that it is very, very popular amongst our agricultural sector.

“We are also progressing the Pacific micro states Northern Australia worker pilot programme that provides two to three year visas for workers from Nauru, Tuvalu, and Kiribati to work in Northern Australia. These changes should provide the opportunity for more Pacific Islanders coming to Australia to work, increasing remittances. 

He said PACER Plus will include a commitment to provide assistance to implementation and to enhance broader aid for trade to address constraints and maximise benefits.

"Australia is committed to working with all of you to determine the best future use of PACER Plus develop assistance.

PACER Plus provides them a golden opportunity to work to build a comprehensive, economic integration framework that reflects our close relationships, our strategic priorities and shared economic future, he said.

“The benefits can be significant and great. We should all be working to have PACER Plus enter force as soon as possible.

Pacific Leaders have committed to concluding and signing of the PACER Plus agreement by June this year.

“It is our responsibility now to complete that commitment. This is an important thing that we do for our countries.

“As I said before, developing that strategic trade framework between our nations provides the framework and the toolkit for us to continue to develop and grow our economies to the benefit of our citizens,” said Senator Colbeck said