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Goff comments on Pacific Islabour schemes timely

22 June 2006

Goff comments on Pacific Island temporary labour schemes "timely"

Comments by Trade and Defence Minister Phil Goff that New Zealand is committed to exploring potential temporary labour schemes for Pacific Islanders are "welcome and timely", Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) Executive Director Vince McBride says.

Mr McBride says the issue is of such importance that the PCF is bringing together a wide range of specialists 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, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Canadian Government which runs a seasonal work scheme with the Caribbean, as well as New Zealand authorities.

Mr Goff's comments are reported by Pacnews from Suva today following a meeting of Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers. Mr Goff was reported saying that New Zealand, unlike Australia, was not ruling out offering temporary work visas to Pacific Islanders, but had to be sure visa terms would be observed and that workers were not exploited.

Mr McBride said: "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.

"From a New Zealand perspective, a prosperous Pacific is a stable Pacific, and that is vital for us too. This is a subject that needs to be debated widely. With the Pacific Leaders' Forum only a few months away the time is right to consider how temporary labour schemes for Pacific Islanders can be made to work," Mr McBride says.


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