By Rositta Liosi – EMTV Online
In 2008-2009, Australia implemented the seasonal workers program for Pacific islanders by granting 56 visas.
However, the migration council argues this program should be expanded, with a focus on workers returning on second, third and subsequent visas.
The Chief Executive of the Migration Council, Henry Sherrell, told the Australian Guardian;
“More migration opportunities for Pacific citizens to Australia creates a triple win, for the migrants themselves, for Pacific countries and for Australia. Pacific citizens can earn four to ten times more income in Australia than their home countries. This drives remittances which help underpin economic development while allowing [Australian] labour shortages to be addressed in industries like horticulture.”
A study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, found seasonal workers from the Pacific were more efficient and productive than backpackers on working holiday visas.
Furthermore, those working consecutive seasons were the most productive.
The seasonal worker program has grown year after year reaching, 2,800 in 2014-2015. However, this falls short in comparison with New Zealand’s program which is more than 7,000.
The Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Steve Ciobo, told the secretariat of the Pacific Community at Niue last month that Australia would increase labour mobility across the Pacific region.
This would support economic growth, including introducing two-year low-skilled work visas for Pacific micro-states, and opening the seasonal workers program.
Ciobo said 5,000 Pacific islanders were expected to participate in the seasonal work program in the coming year, which would basically double numbers from 2014-15.