Pa­cific worker num­bers boom

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

SEA­SONAL work­ers are com­ing from the Pa­cific Is­lands to Aus­tralia in droves, with a 30 per cent jump in the past year, new fig­ures show.

The in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the pro­gram, which grants Pa­cific Is­lan­ders a spe­cial agri­cul­ture work visa, has prompted calls for re­sources to stamp out po­ten­tial ex­ploita­tion.

Last week a par­lia­men­tary en­quiry into mod­ern slav­ery heard claims of ex­ploita­tion by a group of Ton­gan work­ers un­der the pro­gram.

Fed­eral De­part­ment of Em­ploy­ment fig­ures show num­bers in the pro­gram jumped to 6166 in 2016-2017 – up from 4772 in 2015-2016 and 3177 in 2014-2015.

The fig­ures show the num­ber of com­pa­nies in­volved, ei­ther farms hir­ing di­rectly or labour-hire firms, in­creased to 82 in 2016-2017, com­pared with 69 the pre­vi­ous year.

The Na­tional Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion said more farm­ers were ac­cess­ing the pro­gram with costs and pa­per­work re­duced.

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