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MIA plans for more assistance from government regarding Tonga workers in Seasonal work schemes

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10 January 2014 MIA Plans to Seek More Government Assistance to Double Number of Tongan Workers in Seasonal Work Schemes

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) today announced its plan to seek more assistance from Cabinet in order to double the number of Tongan workers who travel to Australia on the Seasonal Work Program (SWP) and to New Zealand on the Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme.

The CEO of MIA, Lopeti Senituli said, “In 2013 we sent 1600 seasonal workers to NZ and 1200 to Australia whilst we had 1500 names on our waiting list. The job market for seasonal workers in both countries is still wide open, especially in Australia, and we plan to make a submission to Cabinet this January for more financial assistance to allow MIA appoint two Liaison/Marketing Officers in Australia, similar to the two officers we already have on board in New Zealand.”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for administering the two seasonal work schemes and it estimates that the Tongan seasonal workers earned approximately TOP$40 million per year.

The CEO of MIA also said that the appointment of two Liaison/Marketing Officers in Australia would not only help advertise and market the skills, strength and dedication of the Tongan seasonal worker but will also help with the pastoral care of the workers whilst they are in country. “Recently we have seen a hike in the number of Tongan workers who have absconded from their agreed place of work without prior approval and knowledge of the employer, and we believe the Liaison/ Marketing Officer can help resolve the workers’ grievance using the mechanisms that the Australian Government had already put in place and thus reduce and eliminate such incidences,” he said.

Lopeti Senituli also said that a second component of its submission to Cabinet will also seek some duty concession for the container loads of household goods and equipment that the seasonal workers usually ship back home for their families and their villages or their church. He said that he has on numerous occasions written to the CEO of the Ministry of Revenue and Customs seeking a reduction in duty for the groups of workers who have sought such assistance. He also said that in the Philippines, seasonal workers are permitted to purchase duty free home appliances and building equipment on their return home, but the purchases must be done within one month of their return home.


Ends

Issued by: Ministry of Internal Affirs. For further information contact Lopeti on 8777135 or Kalesita Taumoepeau on 8464038

 
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