A group of Fiji-born Australian citizens and residents has been pushing for the country’s inclusion in the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP). Fiji has been excluded from the scheme since its inception, largely as a result of the 2006 military coup. The political upheaval saw Australia implement a series of sanctions targeting the military regime. Fijians are also banned from the much larger New Zealand Pacific islander farm-work program.
According to one of the key campaigners, Audrey Finau Dropsy, excluding Fijian workers from participating in the SWP for a situation that was out of their control is unfair. The campaigners have sent a formal request for meetings with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and the Minister for Employment Eric Abetz.
The campaign has been gradually building momentum since last year, led by community groups the Voice of the Pacific and the United Pacific Council of Victoria.
Remittances currently account for 4.5% of Fiji’s GDP and have become the largest source of foreign exchange earnings after tourism.
Remittances do not “account for” 4.5% of Fiji’s GDP. Remittances may be “equivalent to” 4.5% of GDP but remittances, per se, are not a direct component of GDP. Remittances may be part of GNI if they are sent back to Fiji by a normal Fiji resident who is employed on one of the temporary worker schemes, or working on contract overseas and expected to return to Fiji at the end of their contracts (e.g. medical & hotel personnel, security staff, peacekeepers, military personnel, seafarers etc). These type of remittance would be classified as “factor income” and would appear in both the balance of payments and GNI; other “casual” remittances from families who have migrated and are living overseas would be classified as private transfers and would be included as such in the BoP.
These are important economic distinctions in the types/sources of remittances and the way in which they are treated in national accounts and BoP.