Research spotlight

Are there only winners? Labour mobility for sustainable development in the Pacific

Yvonne Underhill-Sem, Evelyn Marsters, Richard Bedford, Vijay Naidu and Ward Friesen

New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research, 2019

The aim of this study is to provide a critical analysis of research and policy tools used for managing Pacific seasonal labour mobility and to assess the effects of specific policy initiatives within specific economic sectors, and countries, that are affected by labour mobility schemes. The study proposes a new framework for labour mobility—a “quadruple win-loss” (rather than “triple win”) that underpins most of the policy commentary. Read more …

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Australia’s Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme: Why has take-up been so low?

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04/2012

The Australian Government introduced the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS) in 2008 to allow Pacific Islanders to fill seasonal labour shortages in the horticulture industry, and announced in December...

The Australian Government introduced the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS) in 2008 to allow Pacific Islanders to fill seasonal labour shortages in the horticulture industry, and announced in December 2011 that the scheme would be made permanent. Take-up of the scheme is increasing but has been very low. As of the end of March 2012, only 1,100 PSWPS workers have arrived since the scheme’s commencement. This study tries to explain why the PSWPS has not employed more Pacific workers. It distinguishes between different hypotheses that could explain the poor outcome, and uses quantitative and qualitative analysis to test each hypothesis, including a survey of growers.

Circular migration, remittances and inequality in Vanuatu

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01/2015

Many migration arrangements can be described as circular, repeat, seasonal or temporary, and these typically interact with other settlement based migration opportunities. The impact of circular migration on participants is...

Many migration arrangements can be described as circular, repeat, seasonal or temporary, and these typically interact with other settlement based migration opportunities. The impact of circular migration on participants is difficult to ascertain since it involves both a temporary source of new income and a temporary change in household composition and the location of household economic activities (the household becomes a transnational unit with members in two or more countries). The overall impact on the source country is even more difficult to determine because of the complex way that circular migration may interact with settlement migration. The recent opportunity for circular migration from Vanuatu under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Work Policy provides an opportunity to better understand these issues, since this scheme was introduced into a setting with very few settlement migration opportunities. This paper describes the effect of RSE participation, and the resulting increase in remitted and repatriated earnings on inter-household inequality in Vanuatu.

Development through seasonal worker programs: The case of New Zealand’s RSE program

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01/2014

Seasonal worker programs are increasingly seen as offering the potential to be part of international development policy. New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer program is one of the first and most...

Seasonal worker programs are increasingly seen as offering the potential to be part of international development policy. New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer program is one of the first and most prominent of programs designed with this perspective. This paper provides a detailed examination of this policy through the first six seasons. This includes the important role of policy facilitation measures taken by governments and aid agencies. The evolution of the program in terms of worker numbers is discussed, along with new data on the (high) degree of circularity in worker movements, and new data on (very low) worker overstay rates. There appears to have been little displacement of New Zealand workers, and new data show Recognised Seasonal Employer workers to be more productive than local labor and that workers appear to gain productivity as they return for subsequent seasons. The program has also benefitted the migrants participating in the program, with increases in per capita incomes, expenditure, savings, and subjective well-being. Taken together, this evidence suggests that the program is largely living up to its promise of a “triple win” for migrants, their sending countries in the Pacific, and New Zealand.

Pacific possible—labour mobility: the ten billion dollar prize

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07/2016

International labour migration is a significant opportunity for Pacific Island countries. Increasing options for the movement of people to jobs provides a ‘triple win’ for the workers and their families;...

International labour migration is a significant opportunity for Pacific Island countries. Increasing options for the movement of people to jobs provides a ‘triple win’ for the workers and their families; the countries they come from; and the countries they work in. This paper explores the potential benefits of labour mobility by 2040, providing a range of recommendations and policy reforms to achieve them.

A national disgrace: The exploitation of temporary work visa holders

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03/2016

The assumption that Australia is solely a country of permanent settlement is now outdated. Labour mobility is a key feature of globalisation and has led to a dramatic increase in...

The assumption that Australia is solely a country of permanent settlement is now outdated. Labour mobility is a key feature of globalisation and has led to a dramatic increase in the global migration for work. Within Australia, the increasing reliance on temporary (as opposed to permanent) migration marks a transformation in the nature of Australia's migration program away from previous assumptions that migrants to Australia would become permanent residents and citizens.

Our north, our future: White paper on developing northern Australia

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06/2015

The north has untapped promise, abundant resources and talented people. It is also Australia’s closest connection with our key trading markets and the global scale changes occurring in Asia. A...

The north has untapped promise, abundant resources and talented people. It is also Australia’s closest connection with our key trading markets and the global scale changes occurring in Asia. A strong north means a strong nation. Even though over one million people live in the north — all of the Northern Territory and those parts of Western Australia and Queensland above the Tropic of Capricorn — it accounts for over half of our sea exports (Ports Australia, 2014). Thriving and diverse exports in minerals, energy, agriculture and tourism underpin our national income. The earnings from the Pilbara alone are larger than the individual economies of 119 countries but are generated by only 60,000 people (Pilbara Development Commission, 2013).