Vanuatu PM sign two significant MOUs

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne signed two important agreements on the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Summit yesterday. Picture: MOFAICET

YAREN, 05 SEPTEMBER 2018 (VANUATU DAILY POST) – Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne signed two important agreements on the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Summit Tuesday.

The first is an MOU to allow Vanuatu to participate in the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).

Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu pointed out the MOU to allow Vanuatu to participate in the Pacific Labour Scheme is significant because:

  1. a) the PLS is for non-seasonal low- and semi-skilled occupations. The Seasonal Work Program (SWP) which Vanuatu currently participates in is only for unskilled occupations, for instance fruit-picking, so this new program (PLS) now expands the occupations Vanuatu citizens can work in.
  2. b) the PLS commenced on 1 July, 2018 only with workers from Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu. This agreement now allows workers from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Samoa to also participate in this program.
  3. c) this programme allows for Vanuatu citizens to be granted a multiple-entry Subclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) visa, or its equivalent, valid for up to three years.

Solomon Islands and Samoa also joined Australia’s PLS, following the signing of agreements with each nation at the PIF in Nauru.

The new labour mobility scheme is an integral part of Australia’s efforts to promote greater economic cooperation with the Pacific, and help strengthen the region’s economic resilience.

It provides Pacific island workers with opportunities to gain valuable skills and income, and assists businesses in rural and regional Australia. The workers also contribute to Australia’s economy by filling roles Australian businesses have proven they cannot fill with local workers.

The PLS commenced on July 1. Workers from Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will now join those from Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu to undertake non-seasonal work in rural and regional Australia.

The scheme has an initial cap of up to 2,000 workers in 2018-19, and includes measures to protect Pacific workers and Australian jobs.

It builds on Australia’s long-standing Seasonal Worker Program, which has helped Australian farmers and provided job opportunities for over 25,000 workers from the Pacific and Timor-Leste since 2012, delivering $144 million (US$103 million) in net income gains to the region.

The second MOU will allow Vanuatu to test certain medicines in Australian laboratories.

Both Vanuatu and Samoa will participate in Australia’s Pacific Medicines Testing Program, following the signing of agreements with both nations Tuesday.

The Program, which aims to assure the safety of medicines in the region, provides participating countries with the opportunity to have up to five medicines tested per year, at no cost, in Australia’s world-class testing facilities at the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Three of the tests provided are for commonly used antibiotics and medicines to treat non-communicable diseases. The remaining two tests are for responsive testing where a potential problem has been identified with a medicine by a participating country.

The supply of quality medicines is a long-standing issue facing many nations in the region.

Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu are currently participating in the program, which Australia aims to make available to countries across the Pacific.

The Pacific Medicines Testing Program, which commenced in August 2017, is part of Australia’s commitment to strengthen its engagement for a more resilient, safe, secure and prosperous Pacific.

This is one of the five priorities for Australia’s foreign policy set out in our 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

Assuring the supply of quality medicines helps build strong communities.

Australia is committed to the safety and security of the people of the Pacific Islands.

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