25 September 2023

New DFAT office to have Pacific views

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The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is to establish a new Office of the Pacific to coordinate a whole-of-Government response to the closer ties with Pacific Governments and regional organisations announced by Prime Minister, Scott Morrison last week.

Announced by Mr Morrison and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne, the new Office will be fully resourced to support efforts to develop closer ties with Pacific Governments and regional organisations, including the Pacific Islands Forum.

“Other Agencies, including the Australian Federal Police, Defence, Department of Home Affairs and Attorney-General’s Department will be invited to provide secondments to the Office to help better coordinate efforts to develop even closer ties across the region,” the Ministers said.

They said a Pacific Labour Scheme would be progressively rolled out across all Pacific island countries.

“Currently open to six Pacific countries, Tonga will be the next country to join the Pacific Labour Scheme,” they said.

“We will also discuss with our Papua New Guinean counterparts a pathway for Papua New Guinea to join the scheme.

“In addition, the current cap of 2,000 places will be lifted, providing more opportunities for Pacific workers to undertake non-seasonal work for up to three years.”

The Ministers said the measures would help Australian farmers and regional communities get the workers they needed, when they needed them.

“Australia will continue to prioritise the Pacific to help fill jobs where Australian workers are not able to do so,” they statement said.

Details of Australia’s extended Pacific involvement can be found at this PS News link.

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