Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced that Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu have been invited to join the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme.This will provide an important economic boost to communities in our Pacific neighbourhood and offer Australian producers an avenue to source workers, where seasonal demands outstrip the local supply of labour.
Workers from Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu will have the opportunity to join those from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu participating in the pilot scheme.
Under the pilot scheme, Pacific workers come to Australia for four to six months to work for horticultural enterprises who demonstrate that they cannot find enough local labour to meet their seasonal harvest needs.
With over 560 workers recruited so far, the pilot scheme is delivering benefits to participating Pacific countries. Workers remit money back home, benefiting their families and broader communities.
In Australia, the pilot scheme is delivering productivity gains for the horticulture industry, particularly in regional areas where access to a reliable labour supply has been a longstanding challenge.
Demand for Pacific seasonal workers by the horticulture industry is increasing following the introduction of more flexible arrangements by the Australian Government in December 2010 and as the horticulture industry recovers from the severe drought and floods.
The expansion reflects strong support for the scheme from Pacific countries and the Australian horticulture sector.
Further information about the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme is available at www.deewr.gov.au/pswps.