Bongere & Bergmann & the beginnings of Kundiawa town
PNG’s literacy rate is stalling & needs urgent attention

Obfuscation & delay – Oz Highcom visa stuff-up number 4,593


THERE’S a box on a bookshelf just behind me bursting with Crocodile Prize trophies, dutifully assembled by Phil Fitzpatrick in Hervey Bay, Queensland.

On Saturday I am meant to travel to Brisbane to hand the box to Jimmy Drekore to take with him back to Simbu; the contents destined for the hands of the eight Papua New Guineans who won awards in this year’s Crocodile Prize.

But will PNG’s Digicel Man of Honour, poet and philanthropist Jimmy Drekore make it to the Brisbane Writers Festival and to his assignation with me?

Or will his travel to Australia be prevented by the notorious inefficiency and insensitivity of the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby?

One thing that riles me as much as deceit, hypocrisy and bigotry is the arrogant inefficiency with which many bureaucrats in foreign service ply their trade.

Last night I received a short, plaintive email from Jimmy Drekore, who is also president of the Crocodile Prize Organisation and that great indigenous PNG charity, the Simbu Children Foundation.

“I tried yesterday and today to get any response from Aussie High Com regarding my visa application but no one is answering me.

“Will try again tomorrow [Wednesday] but please see if you can communicate with someone at the High Com to advise on my visa application.”

The Australian High Commission and I have a straightforward relationship. When I contact them they don’t reply.

After the great Ian Kemish left Port Moresby as High Commissioner, his heirs and successors decided that the Crocodile Prize was concilium non grata – an organisation we don’t like.

Later, for reasons not given but related to a major stuff up over Bougainville, the High Commissioner was sent packing and has still not been replaced.

But some things never change. And the struggle that Papua New Guineans go through to get visas to enter Australia is one of them. A continuing disgrace.

More than a year ago Bob Cleland had the wonderful idea that it would be good for a senior PNG writer and literary administrator to attend the 2015 Brisbane Writers Festival.

The intent would be to build bridges between writers in PNG and Australia and, hopefully, to establish a strong link between the Festival and the Crocodile Prize.

Jimmy Drekore was the obvious person to achieve this and Bob and I tipped in a couple of thousand dollars to bring him to Australia.

He’s due to arrive tomorrow. If the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby can get its act together.

If they can’t, it will be a fiasco.

I’ve taken to Twitter to bring the matter to the attention of friends of PNG, foreign minister Julie Bishop and Australia’s foreign affairs bureaucrats that this is an urgent problem requiring an immediate solution.

We await an outcome. If you're a Twitter user, please join the outcry. Otherwise add your comment to this story.

I'm not necessarily hopeful about a good outcome because, as PNG Attitude contributor Peter Kranz, himself experiencing this chronic visa run-around, wrote: “We have been trying since July to get a visa for sister Elise to come and look after Rose, but no luck.

“Just obfuscations, delays and requests for more information from the Aus High Comm.”

That's their pace.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bessielah David

Wish you the best, Jimmy and Keith, great results indeed in a short span of time.

Someone (the powers that be) from Aussie High Comm and the "Border Farce" must be reading from this site and the following the tweets after all. Keith you and team are super!

Wish you all blessings always!

Jimmy Awagl

You are setting my heart at peace and wiping my tears away at last for I am working tirelessly to host the event for the first time away from Aussie High Comm.

Jimmy's travel is the complement to the Croc Prize Event in Simbu.

Thanks everyone but avoid delay as such.

Wakai Weh.

Paul Oates

Perhaps some kind person in DFAT actually reads this blog and decided the Minister must act?

Husat isave?

It is read - KJ

Rashmii Amoah

Great outcome! Peter - I am particularly pleased to hear that Rose's sister's visa has been granted too:)

Australian High Commission Port Moresby

Mr Drekore’s visa application was processed and granted 10 days after lodgement – within the advertised indicative timeframe for processing Visitor visas in Port Moresby. We wish Mr Drekore an enjoyable and productive visit to the Brisbane Writers Festival.
He is one of around 17,000 Papua New Guineans granted an Australian visa each year. We encourage Papua New Guineans to apply online for a visa to visit Australia. You can find out how at:

Laurence Quinlivan

Well done Keith. Hope to meet Jimmy at Roma St Parkland on Saturday.

Francis Nii

Happy to read you are on your way, Mero. All the best.

Peter Kranz

Good news Jim! We have also just heard that Rose's sister's visa has been granted too.

Mathias Kin

Thank you! On your way Jim.

Philip G Kaupa

Sigh!...thankyou my honourable man is traveling at last..all the best!

Murray Bladwell

Great news Jimmy. Look forward to catching up with you in Brisbane.

Jimmy Drekore

Keith and all. Thank you for all your concern.

I've just been granted my visa and am on schedule to meet the team in Brissy.

Wakai we!

Paul Oates

Perhaps an urgent appeal to the Foreign Minister might help as she is the Minister responsible for the High Commission.

This was done. No response. As expected - KJ

Andreas Martz

Just not good enough. Needs to be fixed. I always have friends that have the same issue continually.

Peter Kranz

I don't know what to believe from the Australian Immigration Department (now known as Border Farce).

They say 2 weeks turnaround for a visa, but it's been six weeks now. Rose in in her third week of chemotherapy and needs help from her sisters to look after her, but Peter Dutton's department just doesn't seem to care.

Yeah they're only people of a different colour and are probably going to die anyway. And besides, my lovely wife Rose may be a people-smuggler.

Na Dutton kinde kaninga.

Raymond Sigimet

Why the delay Australian High Commission? The whole idea of your establishment is to foster relationship between your country and the host.

Jimmy's on a cultural exchange trip to Australia, for goodness sake!? It's not that he's a threat to anyone down under...and putting him and the Crocodile Literary Prize Organisers under undue stress is unacceptable.

FYI AHC, this Prize Award is becoming a national event now.

Enough of this snobbish and arrogant attitude to your nearest and closest neighbour!

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

Oh no. Who is throwing dirt into the mumu pit?
Hope you make it Jim.


My professional friends continue to have the same problems. It needs to be fixed.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)