By JAMES APA GUMUNO
THE Australian government has approved 650 fruit pickers from Papua New Guinea to work in farms in Australia this year.
Australia foreign affairs minister Steven Smith, in his letter sent to his PNG counterpart Sam Abal last month, said Papua New Guineans would be among the
2,500 Pacific Islanders allowed to work in farms in Australia.
Mr Abal told The National yesterday from Hoskins airport, West New Britain province, that a task force had been set up within his
ministry to establish provincial coordinators who
will work closely with the churches, police and
community leaders to identify good, young energetic men and women to work in Australia.
“The recruitment will be conducted in all the 22 provinces in the country, including the new Jiwaka and Hela provinces.
“The provincial coordinators to be set up this year will be working closely with churches, police and community leaders to identify
Grade 10 and 12 school leavers with good character and record, no criminal record, disciplined, law abiding and hard working citizens to go and work in Australia,” he said.
Mr Abal said: “We want good people to work and establish a good reputation to convince the Australians to recruit more Papua New Guineans.
“We cannot blindly send all the 650 workforce down because this is the number
of people allowed by the
Australian government but what is the demand of the farmers.
“This we have to find out first before the fruit pickers are sent to Australia.
“Those selected will go through some form of training before they are sent off to Australia.”
He said his department was responsible for the recruitment and that no else or agents were appointed to carry out the recruitment.
“When demand for fruit pickers is high, we will engage a private company
to take charge of the whole operation after two years,” he said.
Mr Abal advised the people not to listen to private
consultants, companies or individuals claiming to represent his office and collecting fees and promising them jobs in Australia.