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Debate on Pacific Work Schemes urgently needed

Debate on Pacific Work Schemes urgently needed

Pacific Cooperation Foundation Director Vince McBride has welcomed reports that Foreign Minister Winston Peters is open to considering temporary work schemes for Pacific Islanders.

“It is important New Zealand urgently considers this issue. New Zealand employers need workers, while Pacific Island countries have the labour force and need the income,” Mr McBride says.

“Our political and business leaders need to tackle the issue with a view to contributing to New Zealand’s economic growth, and providing a ‘win-win’ solution for all.”

Mr McBride was commenting on media reports (NZPA story published Dominion Post page 4, Friday 9 June) quoting Mr Peters saying workers from Pacific countries such as Fiji, Samoa or Vanuatu could come to New Zealand for three or four months to work if a system could be found to ensure they went home. Mr Peters was quoted as saying officials were looking at the “urgent” issue, and that the Government believed it could work at local village level with Pacific leaders to ensure people who came to New Zealand did return home.

Mr McBride says the issue is of such importance that the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) is bringing experts from around the region to speak at a two-day conference later this month.

The Pacific Labour Market Conference will feature speakers from the World Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, as well as New Zealand. It is attracting wide interest around the region as a forum for constructive debate at which all key stakeholders can consider the issues involved.

“Increasingly, Pacific Island governments are telling us that easier access to the large labour markets of Australia and New Zealand is vital to their future economic prosperity. This message has obvious attractions to Australian and New Zealand employers faced with labour shortages, but the prospect of imported workers is obviously threatening to some,” Mr McBride says.

“This is a subject that needs to be debated widely, and with urgency, “ Mr McBride says.

Ends

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