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LCCI Logo 2021 – Visa process is ‘an irritant’

VISA entry processes dominated the opening speeches at the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum, with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill saying the irritating process was “more difficult than ever before”.

Addressing delegates at the event in Cairns, O’Neill described Australia as PNG’s closest neighbour and best friend, adding that minister to minister dialogue had never been stronger. 

However, he said there was one continuing irritant in the relationship.”It is an irritant that I know both business councils and the private sector share my concern about,” O’Neill said.

“I have been unsuccessful in my efforts to simplify the visa entry process to Australia for our citizens.

“It is a sad reality that Papua New Guinea businessmen and women, wanting to visit Australian businesses, have more difficulty than ever before in getting a visa.

“And if they are seeking a residential visa, the processes are significantly more difficult than before. In a mature relationship, this should not be the case.

“We should be working together on ways to make business, tourism, family and other travel easier to undertake.”Again, I make no apology for that decision to end visa on arrival facilities for Australians visiting PNG.

“I hope we can reach an agreement with Australia as a part of the close dialogue between our respective Immigration Ministers.

“Taking to the stand after O’Neill, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian government “did hear” the PNG prime minister’s concerns about visas.

“We are now engaged in finding a technical solution to the necessary background checks that need to be made as we have done with New Zealand,” she said.”It is a technical solution, not a political one. We are determined to ensure that there can be greater mobility – particularly between business and government populations.

“The 30th Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo continues at the Cairns Convention Centre until tomorrow.

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