THE Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration is yet to be informed formally by Australian authorities that only 10 workers are being considered for seasonal labour in Australia.
The decrease in the number of PNG guest workers was reportedly due to the current economic situation in Australia where there had been massive job cuts.
Last Tuesday, the department got the information that about 10 people would go from the previously agreed 600 to 800 Papua New Guineans workers.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Sam Abal confirmed the “informal’ information although he was still awaiting the Australian authorities to inform him formally as called for under the arrangement.
“That’s what happened we heard this (Tuesday) morning if what they are saying is true, that will be disappointing for PNG.
“We understand the economic situation (in Australia) but it should be reflective of the size of the country (Australia),” Mr Abal said, adding that Papua New Guineans are hard working people.
“It has not been confirmed to us yet, but it’s true. If it were 400 to 500, it would have been a good number,” he said.
The lobbying of PNG citizens to travel under the seasonal labour scheme \reached its highest at the start of the global economic crisis and now the numbers in hundreds had been reduced to about 10.
The PNG group, together with groups from other Pacific Island countries, was to travel to Australia next month and November during the harvest season in Australian farms.
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had announced the schedule last May after he returned from an official visit to Australia where he met with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd.
Sir Michael also said about 600 to 800 people from PNG were to travel under the arrangement.