Pacific Island workers a better bet than backpackers to fill employment shortages

Queensland Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett has called for the federal government to begin allowing workers from Pacific Island countries into Australia to fill labour market vacancies, rather than further expand the rules for backpackers visiting on working holiday visas.

"A scheme for Pacific Island workers to fill seasonal or regional labour market gaps would need to be carefully designed and monitored, but it makes far more sense than relying on the inherently erratic backpacker market to fill employment shortages in specific areas," Senator Bartlett said.

It has been reported that the federal government will ‘ease the rules for backpackers visiting Australia if they spend three months in construction jobs in regional Australia.

"Many governments from Pacific Island countries have been asking for better access to the Australian labour market for some time, and have been rebuffed by both Liberal and Labor."

"One can hardly blame governments in the Pacific from wondering why Australia is blocking such a move, when the government’s alternative to Pacific Islanders coming on specially designed employment visas is to rely more and more on backpackers who come mostly from western Europe and North America."

"Not only would it improve our relationship with countries in the Pacific region and help fill growing employment shortages, it would also provide much needed assistance to the economies and many families from countries in the Pacific," Senator Bartlett concluded.

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