Papua New Guinea

Both sides can improve on seasonal workers


WITH the government recently admitting to issues plaguing the number of Papua New Guineans working in Australia and New Zealand farms as seasonal workers, Australia says the need for improvement was on both sides.

Australian Assistant Minister for Trade, Investment and Tourism Mark Coulton said while there are issues, the major hurdle is communication between both governments.

“Seasonal workers I think it is a bit of the case of where we can both improve.”

“My understanding, without going through the details, is a couple of the bad results were I think maybe a lack of communication to start.”

“If a worker is coming from PNG and going to Australia they need to clearly understand what the job is and what the working conditions are, the hours paid, accommodation, all those things they need to know what is what.”

“The Australia employer has an obligation to meet those standards and follow their part of the obligation,” Mr Coulton said.

He said he had personally conversed with nationals from Vanuatu that spent 6 months of the season in farms in New South Wales who improved their lives back home which is what the Australian Government wants the seasonal worker scheme to ultimately provide for Pacific islanders.

“I think it has got potential and I think it has just gotten off to a rocky start I can understand but it is nothing that can’t be sorted out.”

“I can’t see why that same sort of arrangement can’t happen with the people of PNG,” he said.

Coulton said the Australia Government was looking at a longer term worker program that could go as long as three years.

“The idea around that is say in agriculture the worker spends in that three years may pick up some skills and technology and when they come back they can really come back with some money obviously and hopefully they will be training as part of that so when they come back and use that expertise.”

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