Senate debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Pacific Islands

3:02 pm

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

The Pacific Labour Scheme is very important to Australia and it's important to our Pacific neighbours. It allows Australian employers to fill labour gaps and it allows Pacific workers to earn remittances to send home to their families. Like other workers, Pacific island workers have had their lives and their work disrupted by COVID-19. There are over a thousand PLS workers in Australia, and, for those who have lost jobs, we have been working hard to help them find new employment or to arrange their safe return home. We've provided all relevant health advice and guidance on COVID-19 restrictions, and other support, including pastoral care and Pacific language information on COVID-19 responses.

I am concerned by recent reports about the situation of some Pacific islanders under the scheme. We are working closely with approved employers, with Pacific governments and with communities to safeguard the welfare of these workers. Senators opposite have also raised this issue, and I want to assure them and to assure the community that the government is committed to rectifying these issues for a successful and a safe PLS. (Time expired)

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