Solomon Islanders can now participate in Australia’s Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme following the formal signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles and Solomon Islands' Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Peter Shanel.
The pilot scheme makes up to 2,500 visas available to workers from participating countries to work in Australia’s horticulture industry.
"We are very pleased that Solomon Islands has responded quickly to Australia’s invitation to join the scheme, which was extended by Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the Pacific Islands Forum in September," said Mr Marles.
"We look forward to working with the Solomon Islands Government to implement the arrangements outlined in this MOU and hopefully we will see workers recruited from Solomon Islands arriving in Australia in coming months."
Leading a bipartisan delegation to the Pacific this week, Mr Marles has affirmed Australia’s commitment to strong development outcomes for the people of Solomon Islands in meetings with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and other senior Ministers.
Delegation members include Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop, Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro and Government MP Bernie Ripoll.
They are accompanied by Australia’s Global Ambassador for Women and Girls, Penny Williams.
The delegation opened new offices for the Solomon Islands Women in Business Association, which promotes women’s participation in the private sector.
"Australia is committed to working with Solomon Islands to address problems of gender equity and violence against women," said Mr Marles. "Building economic opportunities for women is an important part of this effort."
The delegation also visited the headquarters of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which since its arrival in 2003 has helped restore law and order, stabilise government finances and rebuild public institutions.
RAMSI Special Coordinator Nicholas Coppel briefed the delegation on the mission’s transition, under which Solomon Islands is assuming more responsibility as RAMSI reduces in size.
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