Pacific workers gain new government benefits

A greater number of people in Australia are set to gain government benefits.

Pacific islanders working in Australia and their families will have access to Medicare and university student loans after legislation passed the upper house on Tuesday.

Under the two visa schemes, eligible holders will also access family tax benefits and the child care subsidy.

The legislation is a bid by the government to strengthen ties with the region, while helping fill workforce shortages, particularly in remote communities.

The Pacific Engagement Visa will allow up to 3000 people from the Pacific and Timor-Leste to migrate to Australia as permanent residents each year.

Long-term workers coming over under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme will be allowed to bring their families, with a pilot of 200 starting next year.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the government was “playing our part in a shared Pacific that is peaceful, stable and prosperous”.

Pacific Minister Pat Conroy said the support was demonstration of the value Australia placed on its regional relationships.

“The measures will not only benefit individuals, families and employers, but also the broader region by providing economic and skills dividends,” he said.


Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)

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Categories: Finance