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Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu bring total to 8 countries

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Sept. 7, 2011) – The Australian Government says the expansion of its seasonal workers scheme will provide an economic boost to the Pacific region.

As part of the pilot programme, farmers are able to employ workers from certain Pacific Island countries, under special visa conditions.

[PIR editor’s note: Australia currently has agreements with Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu.]

But after strong lobbying from regional leaders, the scheme will be expanded to include four more countries: Nauru, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Australia's parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, said it is a win-win situation.

"This will be very good news for growers in the horticultural sector who will have a greater labour force to draw from," he said.

"And of course, this will be a very positive announcement from the point of view of the region who have been talking to us a lot about wanting access to the Australian labour market".

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