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Prime Minister Philip says Gillard agreed

By Ednal Palmer HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 14, 2011) - Prime Minister Danny Philip said he kindly ask Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to freely return Solomon Islands illegally staying in Australia.

Mr. Philip said he made the plea to Mrs. Gillard during the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland, New Zealand last week.

He said many Solomon Islanders are working illegally in Australia.

"I hinted very intimately to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard that since Solomon Islands was not part of the labor market, there were a lot of illegals in Australia and I kindly ask her if she could kindly return those people to the Solomon Islands."

He said many of these people would want to return but fear being reprimanded at the border.

"Many of them have left their families for the past 10 years and wish to return to join their families but are scared of the border security arrangements," the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Philip said the Australian Prime Minister had given him green light on the matter.

"We will work together with the Australian government and they will return these people back so that we can replace them with legal people to work under the scheme. It’s a nice way of putting it and she (Gillard) promised me that they will not be ostracized but will be given tickets to come back home."

The Australian government has accepted Solomon Islanders to work in Australia under the labour mobility scheme.

The acceptance was made during the Pacific Islands Forum meeting last week in Auckland.

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