When the white men came
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Australia’s Pacific missteps continue


MORRISET - If you live in a Pacific nation and are having trouble or being delayed in getting a visa to Australia, there are likely to be two reasons:

One - visa processing has been outsourced to a private UK company called TT Services.

Two - all visa approvals are now managed by the Australian High Commission in Fiji, even if you are from Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Vanuatu or Tonga.

Take a look at this statement on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website:

"Home Affairs in the Australian High Commission in Suva, Fiji has the responsibility for managing immigration and citizenship services in Fiji.

“Home Affairs Suva also has the responsibility for visa and citizenship processing for Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Republic of Nauru, New Caledonia, Northern Marianas, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna and Vanuatu.

“You can lodge your application online or through TT Services. Applications lodged online are generally processed more quickly."

‘More quickly,’ as you might expect from a government bureaucracy, is a relative term.

Average waiting times just for a tourist visa once an application has been vetted by TTS and forwarded to Fiji from your local Australian embassy or high commission is between 21 and 34 working days.

That’s ‘working days’, which translates into nearly two months.

All part of Australia’s ‘step up’ to make itself look more of a partner in the Pacific.


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Karry Frank

I truly cannot understand Australia's affinity to penalise Papua New Guineans over the years with regard to visa processing.

What have we done to earn this humiliation.

I suppose our recent willingness to sent our soldiers to assist our Australian brothers and sisters in their time of need counts for nothing.

Thank you Australia for your continued childish behaviour.

Mark Davis

Interesting question by Lindsay F Bond, above. Any details available Lindsay?

Lindsay F Bond

Of simple curiosity, what process and perhaps pre-planning, would have been entailed for a certain O'Neill gaining access to an Australian airport not so long back?
Did that question of a possible citizenship, become resolved?

Bernard Corden

One would have to ask, which current or former Australian cabinet minister or close relative has their snout in the trough with VFS Global, Kuoni or Hugentobler or the EQT AB Group.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I think you are right Peter, it's racism pure and simple.

Just lately, however, you have to toss in corruption and incompetence.

Makes for a heady mix.

Peter Kranz

Ian - I can only assume it is racism pure and simple.

Ian Ritchie

As an Australian, I am embarrassed and saddened with the Australian government's disdain toward our Pacific neighbours in a variety of contexts.

A visitor visa for Australia can be processed in under two days, but only if you happen to have been born into a select group of countries throughout the world where the eVisitor or ETA (electronic travel authority) applies, whereas if you are one of Australia's nearest neighbouring countries, you are expected to wait.

21 to 34 days is simply an admission of failure on behalf of Australian immigration. There is no justifiable reason for a tourist visa to take so long.

However, this is what the Australian High Commission in PNG displays on their web site (https://png.embassy.gov.au/pmsb/400.html#main)

In the first bolded dot point: "It is easier and quicker than ever before for PNG citizens to apply for a visa to travel to Australia....

"Processing times for complete applications lodged on-line average 7 days or less, facilitating ease of movement for all visitors including tourists and business people."

I wonder if this is actually the case? The PNG on-line visa application link advertised on that fact sheet is broken.... and has been for some time, so I have a doubt about the claim.

The link simply states that "www.immi.gov.au is currently unable to handle this request".

Considering PNG is able to manage a free tourist visa on arrival service for Australian citizens, I wonder how hard it would be for the Australian government to simply open up the $20 sub-class 601 or free sub-class 651 visas to PNG citizens, along with the other 30+ countries currently enjoying the fast turn around service, instead of demanding a $145 fee per Papua New Guinean for the sub-class 600 visa?

Similarly, I wonder how hard it would be for a prime minister to actually make "step up" a step up, rather than another embarrassing display of hollow rhetoric?

Peter Kranz

We've been trying to get a tourist visa for Rose's mum to visit us since Christmas. She's in her 70's and can't read or write, so is one of the forgotten ones.

She just wants to see her daughter again before its too late.

Real human problems are caused and intensified by Australia's ineptitude (and prejudice) in its dealings with our PNG and Pacific friends. We hope Rose's mum will soon get the visa she needs - KJ

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