By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended excluding East Timor from the proposed guest worker program, but says he looks forward to discussions on the issue with the country's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Mr Rudd is meeting with Mr Gusmao this morning and it is expected Mr Gusmao will push for the inclusion of East Timor in the scheme.
However, Mr Rudd says East Timor benefits from other Australian assistance.
"When it comes to East Timor I look forward to my discussions with the Government of that country about their aspirations, but remember also, in East Timor they are also the recipients of long-term revenues from their natural resources in the Timor Sea," he said.
"East Timor is also the receipient of other development assistance and cooperation from Australia."
Mr Rudd says the scheme has been formulated in response to the needs of the fruit-growing industry and the program must be modest to begin with.
"We want to have a proper and reasonable trial of this program, which is why we've embarked on a modest 2,500 workers scheme over a three-year period and we will be evaluating that on the way through," he said.
Mr Rudd has also rejected criticisms that Indigenous people should be used to fill jobs in the industry, highlighting the Government's support for Fortescue Metal head Andrew Forrest's scheme to create 50,000 jobs for Indigenous workers.
"This is not an either or situation," he said.
"We are prosecuting a vigorous program for Indigenous employment across Australia," he said.