Sunday, April 14, 2024

Australian PM announces expansion of PNG labour scheme

AUSTRALIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese says strengthening biosecurity, improving trade connections and expanding the PALM worker scheme are some of the key agricultural outcomes of his historic visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG).

A key focus of the discussions between the Prime Minister and his PNG counterpart, James Marape, was support for PNG’s plans to expand its agricultural production and to build on Australia’s significant investment in infrastructure, commodity development and biosecurity.

The two leaders also declared their intention to significantly boost PNG’s participation in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme (PALM), a crucial source of agriculture workers in Australia.

Australian Federal Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt welcomed the announcements, saying they offered significant potential for both countries to expand their agricultural production.

The Australian PM during his PNG visit.

“As our closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea is such an important partner to the Australian agriculture sector,” Minister Watt said.

“I particularly welcome the announcement of Prime Minister Marape’s ambition to deploy 8,000 PALM workers to Australia.

“The PALM scheme is rapidly growing and helping farmers and meat processors across Australia to fill gaps in their workforce.

“At the same time, the scheme assists Pacific workers earn important income which supports their families back home.

“So it is great to see these channels of opportunity begin to open up.”

Minister Watt said strengthening the biosecurity capability of both nations was vital.

“We need to be incredibly vigilant, particularly with exotic animal disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth disease and lumpy skin disease in Indonesia.”

“If left uncontrolled, there is a risk these diseases could spread through PNG and come to Australia.

The Australian PM during his PNG visit.

“That’s why last year the Albanese Government provided $5 million in funding to provide technical expertise and support to PNG to assist their work in combatting livestock diseases.

“I’m looking forward to engaging in further dialogue with my ministerial counterpart in PNG to continue progressing these opportunities,” the Minister said.

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