PNG now has over 1,000 workers in Australia, earning good wages, learning new skills and sharing income back to their local communities.
Over 1,400 workers are expected by the end of the year.
This represents an explosion of nearly a 1,000 per cent increase from the low numbers inherited by this government.
“These increases are good news for our people, for our economy, and for our broader relationship with Australia” stated the Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey.
“Given the explosion in the numbers of our workers going overseas, we must now quickly adapt our management structures and processes.
During my recent visits to Australia, and in discussions with officials from their Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we agreed we should move towards the creation of a “one-stop shop”.
This One-Stop Shop would cover all government requirements such as health checks, police checks, identity checks, passports, visas and education programs.
This will require new and expanded management structures. The plan is to shortly start recruiting a new CEO for PNG’s Labour Mobility Unit.
We are also working to ensure the experience in Australia is a positive one with actions to improve welfare activities available in Australia.
In addition, actions are underway to help mobilise the World Bank’s program of support to labour mobility.”
“I want to simplify the process to make this extraordinary opportunity open to more of our people.
There is good money to be made – much more than workers usually earn in PNG.”
The minimum wage in Australia is AUD21.38 (Kina 59.40) per hour. In some sectors, pay rates are even higher.
Even after allowing for accommodation and transport and insurance costs, our people can earn good incomes as well as new skills.
And studies indicate that a large share of these earnings will come back as remittances to PNG.
This will lift our foreign exchange reserves and help support our Kina. They can also provide a valuable source of shared income back to our villages.
This will build our economic independence as a proud country trading with the world in both goods and services.
The “one-stop shop” will be supported by expanded programs to get out into Provinces. This will not be just an urban based exercise but focused on rural communities.
For those clearances that require a physical check (such as a medical), the plan is to ensure that the medical checks can be done in all of our Provinces.
“The “explosion” in labour mobility numbers is good news. We need to adapt and modernise our management arrangements to meet the challenge of seeing tens of thousands of our people being able to voluntarily decide to work overseas.
International experience is clear that schemes such as this must be driven by the private sector. Specifically, it is the employers in Australia that must want our workers and this means they will be the ones making the key decisions.
Working in Australia under the labour mobility program is a privilege, not a right.
The Government of PNG can assist with the process, and the creation of a one-stop shop is an important step along this path.
I look forward to working with other members of Parliament to encourage take-up of the scheme within each of their electorates” stated the Treasurer.