Pacific Labour Scheme: New plan lifts labour pool

A New labour scheme for Pacific Islanders is expected to add another 2000 workers to rural and regional Australia — and add almost $81 million to the Federal Government’s coffers.

The Pacific Labour Scheme, first announced in September and confirmed in this week’s midyear Budget update, will see up to 2000 workers from Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu allowed to stay in Australia for up to three years from July next year.

Unlike the horticultural-specific Seasonal Worker Program, employees will be able to work in other industries experiencing skills shortages in rural and regional Australia.

Approved employers will have to first advertise their jobs locally.

Meanwhile, changes to the seasonal worker program, aimed at making the application process easier for potential employers and increase uptake of the program, are expected to add $43.7 million to the Budget bottom-line over the next four years.

The Government is also establishing a Pacific Labour Facility, set to open from July next year.

It will be responsible for creating a “work-ready pool” of labour for the Seasonal Worker Program and the Pacific Labour Scheme, as well as provide pastoral care services to employees and support their return home.

The cost of the facility has yet to be finalised but will be funded through the Australian aid budget, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said.


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