Wednesday, 20 August 2008 4:55 AM

Four for Australian Worker Scheme

Four countries in the region are to be part of the new proposed Australian Guest Worker Scheme.

The proposed Australian Guest Worker Scheme which Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is expected to announce at this week's Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting will involve only four countries from the region, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tonga.

The trial scheme will grant up to 2500 visas over three years for workers from the four countries to work in Australia for up to seven months in any 12 month period.

However, concerns have been raised in Australia regarding the scheme, one being that the scheme is an excuse to use cheap labour.
But according to the Australian Visa Bureau, National Farmers' Federation (NFF) Workplace Relations Manager, Denita Wawn, 'told the Stock Journal the overseas workers would be paid generously, receiving $800-$1000 per week, and that the farmers are willing to pay the extra $1.46 per hour to use Pacific Islanders', explaining that the shortage of labour being experienced by the horticultural industry 'is existent because Australians do not want labour-intensive jobs, and that the proposed scheme will work well to fill the job shortage'.

The other concern raised is that the 'trial scheme will affect relations with Indonesia and The Philippines who provide Australia with a large bulk of overseas labour, as they have high unemployment rates and population surplus', according to Opposition foreign affairs spokesman, Andrew Robb.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province