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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Call for more labour mobility in Pacific Islands

There has been calls for more labour mobility in Pacific Islands. Currently, Australia and New Zealand have been considering opening up their labour markets to allow for seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands.

Read an article on the issue below which has been reproduced from the Fiji Times.

"Australia must open up: Zoellick, Friday, August 03, 2007

The new president of the World Bank, Bob Zoellick, strongly believes it is "absolutely critical" for South Pacific countries to be able to send guest workers to Australia.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, Mr Zoellick said: "'Labour mobility is absolutely critical to the long-term development of the South Pacific."

"I don't know about Australia's visa and immigration rules but labour mobility will be important for remittances and skills for South Pacific countries.

New Zealand has adopted such a scheme and the Australian Labor Party is prepared to explore the idea, but the Prime Minister, John Howard, has ruled it out.

The World Bank, whose charter is the eradication of poverty, lends about $US24 billion ($F38.14billion) in concessional finance to poor countries each year.

Mr Zoellick, formerly the US trade representative and a former deputy secretary of state in the Bush administration, is in Australia for a meeting of the finance ministers of Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum countries.

He said he also wanted to explore with Australia the options for working co-operatively in helping the development of the South Pacific states.

The subject of failing and fragile states was a key area of concern for the bank, he said, and "a strong interest for Australia".

Mr Zoellick said failing states "are dangerous to their neighbours".

He nominated Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Cambodia as fragile states: "And frankly the development community has struggled with how to deal with these countries," he said.

Foreign workers allowed temporarily into Australia would return to their countries with new skills, while they were also able to send their pay packets home to their families, Mr Zoellick said."

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