Minister sells Australia to seasonal workers

Locals who opt to apply for seasonal work in Australia and New Zealand are most likely to choose the land of the long white cloud.

Despite the Australian season workers programme offering unlimited opportunities for Samoans, locals are more drawn to New Zealand. 

This is something the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, who was in the country last week, is looking to change. She is encouraging Samoans to give Australia a go.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Ms. Bishop said she understands why many Samoans would prefer New Zealand. Among the attraction is the comfort of having relatives there. 

“We believe Samoans are good workers with great work ethics,” Ms. Bishop told the Samoa Observer.

“I would encourage people to find out more about seasonal workers programme and I encourage Samoans to consider Australia as an opportunity to take seasonal work in Australia. 

“I know that a lot of Samoans have families living in New Zealand and there are certainly a lot of Samoans too living in Australia as well and we hope that they will be encouraged to come to Australia.” 

Last year, about 140 Samoans took up the seasonal workers programme in Australia. 

In contrast, New Zealand takes on about 9,000 workers from all over the Pacific.

About 4000 ni-Vanuatu, 2000 from each of Samoa and Tonga, almost 500 Solomon Islanders, and the rest are made up of people from Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea.

 “The seasonal workers programme offered by Australia encourages Pacific Islanders including Samoan to undertake work in Australia where there is an unmet demand particularly in agriculture, tourism and hospitality,” said Ms. Bishop. 

“Last year we took the cap off the programme so it’s uncapped driven by demand. The challenge we have is supply… we had about 140 Samoan seasonal workers in last 12 months, we would certainly encourage more.”

Ms. Bishop pointed out the programme not only fulfills a need in Australia it does provide opportunities for Samoans to gain work in Australia. 

“It helps them gain skills, sent remittances back home and also bring skills and experiences back in Samoa to help build the economy here. We are very keen to increase the number - there is no cap on the limits for workers coming in.” The Minister emphasised the numbers is driven by the demand from Australian farmers and Australian businesses. 

“So we’ve expanded the areas to horticulture, agriculture, hospitality, tourism and we are certainly looking at other areas like age care in the future.”

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