Outgoing Prime Minister, Rick Hou uttered this at a recent Australia Day celebrations in Honiara.
“My Government welcomes the appointment of a Deputy Secretary within DFAT, solely responsible for the Pacific.
“This initiative signifies Australia’s increased attention on the economic and social well-being of our Pacific region,” he said.
He said the recent announcement by Australia’s Prime Minister in Papua New Guinea to uncap labour mobility and the issuance of travel cards for senior Politicians and public servants are welcome developments for the region and for Solomon Islands.
“It is a great start toward what might one day turn into a reciprocal visa arrangement for our peoples,” he said.
Hou said Labour mobility is a priority of the Solomon Islands government.
“The recent opening of the Australian labour market for semi-skilled workers under the Pacific Labour Scheme to complement the Seasonal Workers Scheme will unlock opportunities for our unemployed youths.
“In this context, I am pleased to report that a number of hospitality workers left our shores to work in Australia in December, with another group travelling next month,” he said.
He added employers from the Meat industry were recently in the country and had selected some twenty workers to travel next month.
“Australia’s support through the Boost Programme is starting to drive employment numbers in the labour mobility space,” he said.
He then assured that the relations between Solomon Islands and Australia are going from strength to strength.
“We hope to cement this even further with a planned opening of a Consulate-General presence in Brisbane this year – our main port of entry into Australia,” he added.
By IAN M.KAUKUI