Australia expands Pacific Labour Scheme to win influence in region

On Jan. 17, as Canberra expands a regional labour scheme in a bid to win favor with its neighbors amid rising competition from China, Fijians will be allowed to work in Australia for up to three years, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated.

Australia and China are striving for more influence in sparsely-populated Pacific island countries that control vast swathes of resource-rich ocean. They both offer cheap loans and grants for infrastructure, but Australia is also seeking to build on cultural ties with its regional neighbors.

As part of that drive, Morrison said Fijian workers can join the Pacific Labour Scheme which allows men and women from several island nations to work in industries such as agriculture and tourism in Australia.

According to, the scheme allows men and women from Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu aged between 21-45 years old to work in Australia for up to three years. It is popular with Australian farmers who struggle to hire enough workers for jobs such as picking fruit. Islanders can earn wages in Australia well in excess of their average incomes at home.

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