Vanuatu preparing to tap into Tasmanian labor market

Minister of Internal Affairs responsible for labor Alfred Maoh and Commissioner of Labor Lionel Kaluat (r) speaking to journalists on return from Tasmania trip

The Labor Department is working with stakeholders in the country preparing a pool of workers to try and meet the demand from the Australian island state of Tasmania for workers from Vanuatu.

On a visit to Tasmania in October last year by the Minister responsible for labor matters, Alfred Maoh, and the Commissioner of Labor, Lionel Kaluat, interest was made by the Tasmanian Growers Association that they would be able to outsource 10,000 workers from Vanuatu.

“While it sounds very big for Vanuatu, it’s also good for our economy and for outsourcing workers so everybody can have a job,” Labor Commissioner Kaluat said.

“But it’s also likely to be a threat to the community where its negative impact could affect the community, such as not having available people to look after gardens or look after the family when everybody is away,” he advised.

The visit made to Tasmania was initially arranged by one of the contractors, who is also the Trade Commissioner for Vanuatu in Tasmania, to test the ground for seasonal work in Tasmania and the Vanuatu delegation spoke with the Premier of Tasmania and the Members of Parliament and officials in Canberra DFAT and Department of Employment. Now they are looking forward to some formalization of plans for the labor mobility arrangement between the two parties to be completed.

“Also at the time we visited Tasmania, the organizers of the meeting were trying to arrange a meeting with the Tasmanian Growers Association who hinted that they would be able to outsource 10,000 workers from Vanuatu, all depending on the facilitative arrangements on the ground in Tasmania to be completed.

“Otherwise, here in Vanuatu, we are already preparing a pool of workers to try and meet that demand.

“While it sounds very big for Vanuatu, it’s also good for our economy and for outsourcing workers so everybody can have a job.

“But it’s also likely to be a threat to the community where its negative impact could affect the community, such as not having available people to look after gardens or look after the family when everybody is away.

“Those are the challenges but on the outset, I believe that is another big open door that Vanuatu could utilize to outsource more workers to Tasmania.

“And the intension was to use this strategy for our marketing that we can penetrate to the Australian market because the Australian scheme is a bit different from the New Zealand scheme because of its numbers.

“They have opened up the gap for numbers so there’s no imitation for Australia. All sectors are open and not subject to any gap that’s when we need to look at our marketing for here so we can take advantage of all the sectors that have opened up in all the states of Australia,” Mr. Kaluat added.

The Australian seasonal workers scheme for Vanuatu has really grown since the scheme was launched in 2008 and the country joined in 2012, and as the new Australian High Commissioner indicated recently that Vanuatu is again leading the Australian numbers ahead of other Pacific countries.

That is good news for the country and Mr. Kaluat anticipates having more numbers again this season.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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