Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Pacific Step Up is increasingly becoming a Pacific “Stuff Up”, with Tuvalu’s threat to pull out of the Seasonal Worker Program further undermining Australia’s engagement in the Pacific.
In leaked video, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Pacific Islands would survive climate change because their workers come to Australia to “pick our fruit”.
In response, the Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told New Zealand radio:
“I thought the Australian labour scheme was determined on mutual respect, that Australia was also benefiting…If that’s the view of the government, then I would have no hesitation in pulling back the Tuvaluan people.”
Australian farmers do benefit from the Seasonal Worker Program, and Mr McCormack – a Nationals MP who represents country Australia – should know that and should apologise for his reckless and arrogant remarks.
Like Prime Minister Morrison, who negotiated a watered-down version of the Pacific Islands communique on climate change to delete the word “crisis”, Deputy Prime Minister McCormack has added to the Government’s failure to take our Pacific neighbours seriously.
Mr Morrison and Mr McCormack have put Australia at odds with our Pacific neighbours and have further eroded our credibility and standing in the region. They must work to rebuild the relationship, to show they understand the existential threat climate change poses to the Pacific, and take real action to cut carbon pollution.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.