Resources, population and migration in the Pacific: Connecting islands and rim



This article examines international migration in the Pacific and argues that there should be still greater opportunities for the people of Pacific countries to migrate between their home states and the developed states of the Pacific Rim. The case for borders that are more permeable to human migration is based in part on the common Pacific predicament of poor resource endowments, rapidly growing populations, depletion and degradation of existing resources, and threats posed by anthropogenic climate change. Coupled with this is a history of colonisation that has left some Pacific peoples with liberal access to economic opportunities in developed states by virtue of their citizenship or preferential visa status, while others have no such opportunities. Both New Zealand and the United States have been reasonably generous in facilitating migration from Polynesia and Micronesia. It is Australia that stands out as the Pacific neighbour with the greatest capacity to develop new migration streams. The seasonal worker scheme announced by the Australian Government in August 2008 takes a cautious but valuable step along this path, yet there is scope for further expanding Pacific access by broadening the geographical, temporal and material scope of existing migration arrangements.