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Lord Vaea Welcomes Amendments to Australian Seasonal Work Program (SWP) Conditions

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19 December 2013 The Minister for Internal Affairs, Lord Vaea, today welcomed the two amendments to the programme and visa eligibility requirements for the Australian Seasonal Work Program (SWP) that was approved this week by the Australian Government.

The two amendments, which are to come into effect on 1st January 2014, are:

•the removal of the upper age-limit (45 years old) currently in place for seasonal workers;
•the removal of the stand-down period in place for people who have participated in the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme (RSE) and who want to travel to Australia on SWP. (This amendment will be in place for a one year trial period.)

In the year July 2012 - June 2013 there were 1573 Tongan seasonal workers that went to New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme and another 1199 that went to Australia under the Seasonal Worker’s Program (SWP). It is conservatively estimated that Tongan seasonal workers to both countries earn approximately TOP$40 million per year. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for administering both seasonal work schemes.

Lord Vaea said, “On behalf of the Tonga Government I thank the Australian Government for approving these important amendments. The removal of the upper age limit means that the Australian employer gets to enjoy the full benefits of his investment in the training of the Tongan seasonal worker after the worker turns 45. The removal of the stand-down period for the Tongan worker who wants to cross the Tasman means that the job market horizon of the Tongan seasonal worker is no longer confined to the geographical boundaries of one country only.”

Lord Vaea also said that he was conscious of the fact that the stand-down period was initially included in the eligibility requirements for SWP so as to protect the New Zealand employers from the potential loss of his experienced workers to Australian employers. He continued, “Our experience has shown that in the main, the Tongan seasonal worker tends to become personally attached and therefore remain

s faithful to his employer, regardless of which side of the Tasman Sea he is located, so there is no real danger of one country losing its workers to another.” 

The amendments were foreshadowed at the Pacific Islands Labour Sending (PAILS) Forum meeting that was held in Apia in October this year and the Ministry of Internal Affairs on behalf of the Tonga Government was amongst those that made representations in favour of the changes.

Ends

Issued by: Ministry of Internal Affairs. For further information please contact Kalesita Taumoepeau on # 28981 or Lopeti Senituli on # 8777135

 

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