Tonga Joins the Pacific Labour Scheme

‘Tonga’s entry into the Scheme will provide more Tongan workers access to skills development opportunities, while also helping fill labour shortages in rural and regional Australia’

The Minister for Foreign Affairs’ website includes the following announcement:

Expanding the Pacific Labour Scheme and establishing an Office of the Pacific

Joint media release

  • The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister
  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs

15 November 2018

Australia continues to take our partnership with the Pacific to a new level. Building Pacific labour mobility is a priority for Australia and for our partners in the Pacific.

Our Government will progressively roll out the Pacific Labour Scheme across all Pacific island countries. Currently open to six Pacific countries, Tonga will be the next country to join the Pacific Labour Scheme. We will also discuss with our Papua New Guinean counterparts a pathway for Papua New Guinea to join the scheme. 

In addition, the current cap of 2,000 places will be lifted, providing more opportunities for Pacific workers to undertake non-seasonal work for up to three years.

Uncapping the Scheme builds on the success of the uncapped Seasonal Worker Programme, which has enabled more than 28,000 job opportunities for Pacific workers in Australia since 2012.

Together, these measures will help farmers and regional communities get the workers they need, when they need them. Australia will continue to prioritise the Pacific to help fill jobs where Australian workers are not able to do so.

To support Australia’s deepening engagement with the Pacific, the Government will also establish a new Office of the Pacific in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to enhance whole-of-government coordination.

The Office of the Pacific will have increased resourcing and will support our efforts to develop even closer ties with Pacific governments and regional organisations, including the Pacific Islands Forum. 

Other agencies including the Australian Federal Police, Defence, Department of Home Affairs and Attorney-General’s Department will be invited to provide secondments to the Office to help better coordinate our efforts to develop even closer ties across the region.

Visit to learn more about the Pacific Labour Scheme.

Disclaimer: the above is a mere extract of a website. The views there expressed might not reflect the views of the Department, the AAT or the courts. The law or policies might have changed between the writing and reading of this article. The author of this article and Migration Law Updates disclaim any liability for any action (or omission) on their part based on any information provided (or not provided) in this article and are under no obligation to keep the general public nor practitioners informed about the matters discussed in this article or any other matters, or any future changes to any of those matters. It is the responsibility of each practitioner to obtain access to primary sources of law and policy by themselves and to carry out their own research and come to their own conclusions on legislation, case law, policies and more. This article is not intended for the general public.

Sergio Zanotti Stagliorio is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1461003). He is the owner of Target Migration in Sydney. He can be reached at

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