International Development and the Pacific Minister Zed Seselja says there are 15,000 Pacific workers in Australia, which is helping to boost the agriculture sector and the economies of nations in the Pacific.

“Those schemes were suspended early on in COVID, and we restarted them in September of last year; we’ve brought in over 11,000 Pacific workers under that scheme, and some had already remained,” he told Sky News Australia.

Mr Seseslja said for some nations in the Pacific, the remittances the workers send home are the “biggest factor in their economy” as COVID has destabilised the industries these countries rely on.

“Obviously, tourism has been decimated, and we want to see over the next few months, over time, as things get better; obviously we want to see travel resume, we want to see that happening,” he said.

“In the short term, this is critical to those economies, and it’s critical to our economy because, without these Pacific workers, it’s very difficult for our farmers to operate.”

Mr Seseslja said there would be another 1,600 workers brought in next month, and there was a goal to get 12,500 additional workers in total by March, with 2,000 workers already in Australia.

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