Friday, August 22, 2008

Democracy first, jobs later

Democracy first, jobs later

VERENAISI RAICOLA in Niue
Friday, August 22, 2008

WHEN Fiji returns to constitutional governance, New Zealand will be delighted to consider them for seasonal work.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said in Alofi, Niue, that because of differences as a result of political events in Fiji people have not been included in the scheme which is expected to draw in a lot of remittance.
"That is why it is important for Fiji to accept the help of the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum in moving the country forward to a constitutional government," she said.
"That is when normal relationships with neighbouring countries will be maintained," she said.
Fiji also misses out on the much-needed golden opportunity announced by the Australian Government for a three-year pilot seasonal worker scheme.
Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the horticulture scheme was initiated because of the lack of workers to harvest fruits and vegetables. This program would have greatly benefitted people in Fiji as it would have raked in remittance and provided employment opportunities.
Under the trial, up to 2500 visas will be available over three years for workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia for up to seven months in any 12 month period.
Small groups of workers are expected to start work later this year, Mr Rudd said.
Australia's Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke said the project would help Australians and meet the development needs of the Pacific countries.
The move follows calls for assistance by the horticulture industry which claims up to $700million of fresh produce is left to rot because of the lack of reliable workers.
"Fresh Australian fruit and vegetables should be harvested for consumers to enjoy at home and overseas - not left in the field to go to waste," said Mr Burke.
The political situation in Fiji has caused sanctions, including non-involvement in labour mobility exercises.

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