Australia’s labour mobility programs contributing to economic development in the Pacific and Timor Leste

Today I am pleased to support the launch of the World Bank report Maximising the Development Benefits from Temporary Migration.

The report’s analysis of the impacts of labour mobility will inform our future work, including the establishment of our new Pacific Labour Scheme. It will allow us to maximise the development impacts of labour mobility, in collaboration with our partners in the Pacific and in Australia.

The report focusses on Australia’s Seasonal Worker Program and determines that the program is meeting its core objective of contributing to the economic development of labour-sending countries. Since 2012 the program has led to the employment of over 22,000 workers and delivered A$144 million in net income gains to the Pacific region and Timor Leste according to The World Bank. I applaud the commitment of the communities and employers involved.

Labour mobility increases economic resilience within our region. It therefore contributes to one of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper’s five objectives of fundamental importance to Australia’s security and prosperity, by stepping up support for a more resilient Pacific and Timor-Leste.

The report also sets out a range of recommendations to enhance the impacts of the Seasonal Worker Program including options to lift participation rates, promote participation by women and further increase savings. Australia is already introducing several related initiatives.

In Papua New Guinea we are piloting a program to increase the involvement of women from the highlands in the Seasonal Worker Program.

The Australian Government is currently introducing a range of measures to increase access to the program for employers and seasonal workers.

Our expanded labour mobility initiatives will continue to strengthen the Pacific region by creating opportunities for jobs and growth and contributing to the stability and prosperity of our region.