Internal Affairs CEO says claims about Tasmanian worker exploitation not true, but says he will talk to employer in Brisbane

Kuo faka’ikai’i ‘e he CEO ‘o e Potungaue Internal Affairs a Tonga Dr Fotu Fisi'iahi e lipooti ne tuku mai mei 'Aositelēlia pea ‘oatu ‘i he Kaniva ‘o pehē kuo pā’osi’i e kau Ngāue Toli Fakafa’ahita’u Tonga ‘i Tasmania ‘aki hono faka’efihi kinautolu ‘i ha fale ‘ikai fe'unga fakalao ki he nofo’ pea pehē ki hono kai mo’ui ‘enau vahe mei he toli’ ‘e he kautaha na’a nau fakangāue’i kinautolu' he totongi nofo’anga’. Kae taimi tatau ne pehē ‘e he ongoongo ‘a e ABC, ko ha letiō fakafonua ‘eni ‘a ‘Aositelēlia ne nau faka’eke’eke hangatonu ‘a e kau Tonga ko ‘eni pea ne nau fakahā ai ‘enau faka’amu ke ‘ilo ‘e Tonga ‘a e mo’oni’. Ne fakahā ‘e he ni'ihi Tonga ko eni ki he ABC ne ‘ikai pe ke nau fiemālie ki he tūkunga ‘o e nofo’anga’ talu ‘enau tū’uta ki ai ‘i Nōvema. Pehē ‘e he taha e kau Tonga ai ki he ABC ne ‘ikai sai’ia ‘i he nofo’anga' ka ne ‘ikai ha’ane toe fili kae pau ke ngāue ke ma’u ha mo’ui hono fāmili’. Pehē ‘e he kau Tonga ko ‘eni ne nau loto mamahi ange hono toki veteki pe palopalema’ ni hono ‘ilo hili ha fakatotolo na’e fai ‘e he ‘Iunioni Kau ngāue ‘a ‘Aositelēlia' kae ‘ikai fai mo solova kei taimi. Kaekehe, fakatatau ki he fakamatala ‘a Fisi’iahi ki he Kaniva’ ne ne pehē kuo ‘osi ‘i ai ‘a e toko taha Tonga ko Sione Vaka kuo fakangāue’i ‘i Tasmania pea vahe mei he pule’anga’ ke ne tokanga’i ‘a e kau ngāue Tonga ko ‘eni’. Ne ne pehē ka ne mo’oni e lipooti ko ‘eni ne ‘osi lāunga e tamaiki Tonga kia Vaka. Na'a ne pehe ko e kakai ko eni kuo nau 'ilo e lelei mo e kovi neongo ne pehē foki 'e he kau ngāue ki he Letio Fakafonua 'a 'Aositelēlia’ ne nau ilifia ke lea na'a mole 'enau ngāue'. Ne tui foki 'a Fisi'iahi ia ko e kau faiongoongo' 'oku nau mio'i pe 'enautolu 'enau ongoongo' ke manakoa pea toki fakatonutonu. Neongo 'ene faka'ikai'i e lipooti ni ka ne pehē ‘e Fisi’iahi te ne 'ohake 'a e me'a ko ia kuo lave ki ai 'a e lipooti 'i ha fakataha 'e fai 'i Pilisipeini he 'uluaki uike 'o Mā'asi ke fai ki ai ha sio he 'e 'i ai 'a e kautaha ko eni ne nau fakangāue 'a e kau Tonga ko 'eni 'i Tasmania.

The CEO of Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Dr Fotu Fisi’iahi, has denied widespread reports about Tongan workers living in slum conditions in Tasmania.

According to the reports, which were carried by Kaniva news,  about 77 Tongan seasonal workers were evacuated from a five bedroom house in Shearwater due to overcrowding and inadequate conditions.

Australian unions said the workers’ employer, Costa, had committed what amounted to human rights abuse.

Tongan workers in Tasmania told the ABC they wanted to warn people in the kingdom what they were getting themselves into by joining the Seasonal Workers’ Programme in Australia.

“We want them to know the truth. People just pay for the airfares and come over here because they don’t have the information they need,” the workers told the Australian national broadcaster.

Dr Fisi’iahi said if there had been any problems the Tongan workers would have reported them to Tonga’s representative in Tasmania.

“If the investigation you are talking about was true, the seasonal workers would have long complained about it,” Dr Fisi’iahi said in Tongan.

“The Tongan seasonal workers knew what was good and what was bad.

“We all know the journalists they can twist everything to make their news popular before correcting it.”

You can read the ABC news here and more:

However, he said he would raise the issue with the worker’s employer— at a meeting in Brisbane next month.

He claimed a Tongan representative, Sione Vaka, had investigated the situation and said the claims were not true. He described Vaka as reliable and said he was paid  by the Tongan government.

He said Tonga was the only country that had a liaison officer in Tasmania.

Dr Fisi’iahi said Vaka denied all the workers involved were Tongans.

He did not respond when he was asked how many Tongan Seasonal Workers at Shearwater.

“Vaka reported there were three buildings in which the employees stayed. There was a five storey building in which females workers stayed and two other buildings for the male workers,” Dr Fisi’iahi said.

“There were bunk beds in the rooms which were divided into five.

“There was a problem between the council and the landlord over renovation to the buildings the landlord had not done.”

Dr Fisi’iahi said Vaka always visited and checked the accommodation of the Tongan seasonal workers in Tasmania.

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