A 'SENIOR OFFICER' OF the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Scott Mann, has been discussing (Post-Courier, 28 August) the new online Australian visa arrangements that apply to Papua New Guineans.
According to Mr Mann “this new online service will be handy”. He also mentioned that, from Sunday, there will be new passenger lane arrangements at Cairns and Brisbane airports that will facilitate PNG, Australian and New Zealand passport holders’ entry to Australia.
And he added that Australia “is ready to welcome” 100 young Papua New Guineans to visit and work here as part of the Work and Holiday Program.
Meanwhile, Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Deborah Stokes said: “Australia is very generous and so we welcome PNG citizens wishing to visit, study and work in our country.” She added that there had been a 20% growth in PNG visitor number in the last 12 months.
Among other things, this means we are constantly bombarded with political spin including manipulated statistics by all parties every time we turn on the radio or television.
So I thought I’d try to check out the online access that a person from PNG might have to go through to obtain a working holiday visa.
There are many web pages, questions and queries before you can get an idea of what you might have to pay to apply for a working holiday visa.
I must state I am not well versed in the use of the Department’s website at http://www.immi.gov.au/visawizard, however my initial query seemed to indicate someone applying from PNG might need around K800 plus to obtain the visa.
Then there’s an even more formidable issue.
It’s not the internet technology nor special entry queues that will determine real change in Australia’s attitude towards visas for Papua New Guineans.
It’s the forensic yardstick that Australia applies to enabling Papua New Guineans to visit in the first place.
This has been very onerous in its application, too onerous given that Papua New Guineans are very minor visa absconders.
Real change will make the overall visa application process more friendly and transparent.
I notice also that the Department commits to reducing the average processing time from 30 to 10 days. At least that’s a benchmark they can be measured by.
PNG Attitude welcomes comments from readers who experience the new system, letting us know whether there has been real change – or just spin.