Subject: Timor guest workers on agenda for Rudd & Gusmao
East Timor keen
to send guest workers to WA,
to Australians for fruit-picking: Government
Timor guest workers on agenda for Rudd & Gusmao
Updated August 19, 2008 10:20:11
East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao will visit Canberra next week
for talks with Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and what's likely
to be on the agenda is Australia allowing in Timorese guest workers.
Already Australia is opening its doors to Pacific Islanders and its
hoped Mr Rudd will announce a separate scheme for Timorese workers in
Australia's remote Kimberley region.
Presenter: Anne Barker
Speakers: Kevin Austin, Timorese Government; Ron Sedon, General Manager,
Cable Beach Resort, Broome
KEVIN AUSTIN: There are some industries we've looked at, but these are
all industries that are having, as I said, labour shortage crisis issues
and these are all industries Timor can gain skills from.
ANNE BARKER: Kevin Austin works for the Timorese Government. He's spent
months in talks with business and government authorities in Western
Australia's remote north.
He says there are crippling labour shortages there in tourism, forestry
and aquaculture, and it makes sense to bring Timorese workers to the
KEVIN AUSTIN: What we've proposed is 300 employees and trainees in the
first pilot year and we're also requesting 100 occupational trainees.
And Timor certainly would benefit from the fact that we have such a
large youth unemployed and unskilled so-called 'bubble'.
These people certainly would assist in Timor's national and human
security, recovery and development.
ANNE BARKER: One company that's struggled to find and keep staff is the
Cable Beach Resort at Broome. At any time of year there could be 30 jobs
going, but no one to fill them.
Too often the resort relies on backpackers, who wait for the first pay
cheque and then move on.
General manager Ron Sedon says Timorese workers could easily fill some
of those jobs.
ROD SEDON: More your line staff area, public gardeners, landscapers, as
I said, housekeepers, food and beverage servers, I also think that given
Australia's close relationship with East Timor at the moment, we have a
moral responsibility to develop a workforce.
ANNE BARKER: So strong is the local business support, Western Australia
has signed an agreement with East Timor to bring workers to the
If the Commonwealth agrees, 300 Timorese in the first year would work
anywhere from Broome to Kununurra.
Last weekend, the Australian Government announced a pilot program to
bring 2,500 workers from four Pacific nations to work in the Australian
It won't say if that scheme will be expanded to include workers from
But Kevin Austin is hopeful that months of negotiations will pay off,
with an announcement in Canberra next week to coincide with Xanana
East Timor keen to
send guest workers to WA
By Anne Barker
An East Timorese guest worker scheme is likely to be on the agenda
during a visit to Canberra next week by East Timor's Prime Minister
Xanana Gusmao, who will hold talks with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
An East Timor government official has spent months in talks with
business and government authorities in Western Australia's remote north
and an agreement has been signed with the WA Government on bringing East
Timorese to work in Australia's remote Kimberley region.
East Timor is now proposing that about 300 workers and trainees come to
Australia under the first year of a pilot scheme .
East Timor is one of the world's poorest nations, with unemployment at
above 60 per cent, and its Government has described an urgent need to
develop its skills base.
The idea comes after Australia's decision to pilot a scheme for Pacific
Island workers to fill what farmers say is a labour shortage in
Kevin Austin is the East Timor official who has been working on aspects
of a possible scheme in WA.
"There are several industries we have looked at but these are all
industries that are having labour shortage crisis issues and these are
all industries Timor can gain skills from," Mr Austin has told ABC
He says some of the industries in northern WA that are facing crippling
labour shortages are tourism, forestry and aquaculture, and he says it
makes sense to bring Timorese workers to the Kimberley.
"What we've proposed is 300 employees and trainees in the first pilot
year and we're also requesting 100 occupational trainees," Mr Austin
"Timor would benefit from the fact that we have such a large youth
unemployed and unskilled so-called bubble; these people certainly would
assist in Timor's national and human security recovery and development."
One company that has struggled to find and keep staff is the Cable Beach
Resort at Broome, which says it can have 30 jobs vacant at any time of
year, with no one to fill them.
The resort tends to rely on backpackers, but with their tendency to move
on quickly, they do not answer the need for a more stable workforce.
Cable Beach Resort general manager Ron Sedon says Timorese workers could
easily fill some of those jobs, particularly as gardeners, landscapers,
housekeepers and food and beverage workers.
"I also think that given Australia's close relationship with East Timor
at the moment, we have a moral responsibility to develop a workforce,"
Mr Sedon said.
Local business support is so strong that Western Australia has signed an
agreement with East Timor to bring workers to the Kimberley.
If the Commonwealth agrees, the workers would work anywhere from Broome
to Kununurra, with employers paying their transport, accommodation and
Mr Austin also says the training role is important.
"Initially we looked at semi- to low-skilled positions," he said.
"We are now looking at other skilled areas that would assist Timor in
gaining skills, so we're not just talking about employment, we're also
looking at a dual program of both employment and skilling to help Timor
with its own strategic industries that will help its recovery and
The Federal Government will not say if its Pacific worker pilot program
will be expanded to include workers from East Timor.
But Mr Austin is hopeful that the ground work that has already been done
will pay off and bring an announcement in Canberra next week to coincide
with Mr Gusmao's visit.
to Australians for fruit-picking: Government
August 19, 2008
ANYONE in Australia who wanted seasonal agricultural work will be given
a job ahead of overseas guest workers, the federal government says.
Under a three-year pilot scheme, 2500 workers from Tonga, Vanuatu,
Kiribati and Papua New Guinea will be given temporary work visas to
perform seasonal agricultural work such as fruit picking in selected
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine says Aboriginal people should be
encouraged to take up the jobs before Pacific Islanders are tested.
But programs such as Community Development Employment Projects
discouraged travel for seasonal employment because it paid indigenous
people to work on projects in their own community, he said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says the scheme will be demand
"In other words, the requirements that we will put in place will ensure
that if there is an Australian, or someone based in Australia, who is
ready, willing and able to work in the horticulture industry, then
they'll get the jobs first," he told Macquarie Radio in Sydney.
Mr Smith says there is a range of policy issues to be worked through
which is why the government was starting with a pilot program.
"We're going to review that pilot program halfway through ... to see
whether it's a success, to whether the requirements we've put in place
are working effectively," Mr Smith said.
"And if it is successful, to see whether it might be sensible to expand
the capacity to other areas of Australia, or indeed to other countries
in the Pacific."
Already there have been calls for the scheme to include workers from
The Opposition is demanding more information before it backs the plan.
The Government needed to spell out the cost of the plan and why it was
limited to horticulture, opposition small business spokesman Steve Ciobo
He agreed there was a dire need for workers in horticulture and other
industries such as tourism.
"Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the Labor party says the
horticultural industry can have workers but the tourism industry can't,"
"We need some clear and specific policy parameters before the opposition
can determine whether or not we will support this."
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