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MIA responds to reports of Tongans living under dire conditions in Australia

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 17/02/2020

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has denied reports from Australia that Tongan fruit pickers are affected by the living conditions that sees about 70 workers living in a single 5 bedroom house in Tasmania.

The MIA CEO – Dr. Fotu Fisi’iahi says the reports are false as their officer on the ground in Tasmania has denied these reports saying that this officer checks-up on the Tongan seasonal workers and to his knowledge the welfare and rights of the Tongan workers are not infringed upon in their living conditions.

Dr. Fisi’iahi says the issue that brought this to light was a problem between the council and the landlord which did not include the 70 tenants.

A report from Australia last week says, “The seasonal workers, who are mostly from Tonga, were being housed in a property outside Port Sorell in Northern Tasmania and were paying $100 each a week in rent, amounting to over $7000 per week when similar homes rent for around $600 a week.”

The property in which they were living in has been described as “slum-like” and their employer, Costa, “are taking advantage of vulnerable people for profit.”

However, Fisi’iahi says, they are still working on addressing the issue as not all but some, of the Tongans are working under the seasonal workers program under the ministry to Australia

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