Australian businesses seeking multiple-entry visas for Papua New Guinea (PNG) will soon be able to do so after Australian and Papua New Guinea officials discussed ways to streamline immigration.
It follows a visit to Papua New Guinea by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in January, who became the first foreign leader to address the country’s parliament. Albanese’s visit sought to strengthen bilateral relations to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to upholding liberal democratic values in the Indo-Pacific region.
Ministers from the two countries also discussed security and economic cooperation in Canberra on February 17 at the 29th Ministerial Forum between Australia and Papua New Guinea. A draft security agreement has been exchanged, and it is expected to be signed by April 2023.
“This will allow Papua New Guineans direct access to apply for a visa to Australia,” said Papua New Guinea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justin Tkachenko.
Pending changes to visa processing include the ability to complete an Australia visa application and paperwork in Port Moresby, PNG, as a key step to improving people-to-people relationships by providing direct access.
Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister John Russo said visa approvals and processes are important, as 75 percent of visas can be approved within 14 days.
There are currently no multiple entry visas for Australian businesses, but new visa changes to short-term visas will make it easier for Australian citizens to work.
“It will be short-term visas over twelve months, rather than being issued every month when you need to come to Papua New Guinea,” said Russo.
“We will also adhere to the 75 per cent mark and turnaround time for visas to come to Papua New Guinea for Australia, and this will also be on a reciprocal basis.”
Tkachenko from Papua New Guinea said the bilateral agreement is not just about regional security, police and defence.
“It also relates to many other security issues – climate change, biosecurity, gender equality, and economic security as well.”
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the two countries signaled their commitment to support regional peace, security, economic resilience and Pacific unity.
We strive for this to be the next stage in this relationship of this kind of standing. A close partnership that is open and honest and ensures that we work together to enable Papua New Guinea to achieve its aspirations,” Wong said at the press conference.
“We have that deep relationship with us and this security treaty will only serve to strengthen our security in the region together, internally and externally and for the sake of the region.”
Wong will visit Fiji for a Pacific Islands Forum retreat next week, and visit Kiribati to the northeast as well.
Improving relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea
During the forum, ministers renewed their commitment to the Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership (CSEP) to guide the Australia-Papua New Guinea partnership through coordinated engagements.
The unique historical relationship between the two countries was discussed, along with the following six axes: strong democracies for a stable future, close friends, lasting ties, economic partnership for prosperity, strategic cooperation for security and stability, and social and human development with neighbors. and global partners.
Casey Sawang, Papua New Guinea’s deputy commerce minister, told AAP that the two countries need to reassess their relationship based on a colonial past and now focus on personal relationships.
“We need a new level of people-to-people relations, rather than government-aid relations and diplomacy,” Swang said.
A standalone PNG file
Albanese’s visit in January sought to ensure that the Papua New Guinea government did not follow the example of the Solomon Islands in signing a security agreement with Beijing.
However, Tkachenko said that the security agreement signed between the Solomon Islands and China is “irrelevant” to the Papua New Guinea government.
During the forum, Wong said it was important to focus on Papua New Guinea’s autonomy and independence because “economic security ensures national security and ensures regional security.”
“We seek this to be the next stage in this relationship of this kind of stature, a partnership that is close, open and honest and that ensures we work together to enable Papua New Guinea to achieve its aspirations,” Wong said.
Tkachenko agreed with Wong that Papua New Guinea needed to remain politically and economically independent.
“A safe and prosperous Papua New Guinea is also a safe and prosperous Australia,” said Tkachenko.
“There is always room to help each other out, especially when we have a situation where our region is changing.”
Australia and Papua New Guinea signed a new strategic cooperation by developing the Bilateral Security Treaty (BST) on January 12, with a commitment to conclude negotiations within four months.
“As close neighbours, close friends, and equal partners, the defense and security of Papua New Guinea and Australia are deeply linked,” the prime ministers of the two countries said in a joint statement.
“We share a common strategic interest in a secure, stable Indo-Pacific, peace and prosperity. We have a proud history of working together for the interests of the region.
BST will provide an enabling framework for our current and future traditional and non-traditional security collaboration. BST will facilitate the practical expansion and deepening of our security cooperation as we sit atop existing arrangements, programs and activities.”
AAP contributed to this article.