Australia assures PNG citizens on visa issue, position in the region is critical to regional security

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Australia has acknowledged the concern raised by Papua New Guineans about the challenges in processes to obtain an Australian visa.

Australian Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong told NBC News that they are doing all they can to address this issue.

Senator Wong says Australia does not discriminate between countries but have a visa system that looks at managing the entry into their country.

“This being an issue, if it makes you feel any better, and probably it doesn’t, it’s an issue across a lot of countries. I’ve got family in Malaysia you know, it’s pretty difficult for them as well.”

“We had a very substantial backlog of these applications. Obviously, the opening of the borders because Australia’s national borders were closed for a fair while, we’ve had a backlog both of Australian’s getting passports, so we’ve been trying to work on that, and also people from overseas getting visas to come to Australia.”

“I understand we put more people on. We are trying to get through the backlog. So I just expressed regret that you know it’s taking a long time but we’ll keep trying to get those visas processed,” said Senator Wong.

Meanwhile, Australia has come out stating its respect for Papua New Guinea’s sovereignty amidst the increasing geopolitical tension between China and the United States.

Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Penny Wong, in an interview with the NBC said PNG’s strategic position and size in the region is critical to regional security.

The two countries are now in talks for a security treaty following the visit of Senator Wong to the country.

She said PNG is free to make its own decisions, however, the shared vision is for a peaceful, stable, secured and prosperous region.

Wong said the relationship between the two countries under the Labour Government is one between equals characterised by trust, respect and understanding.

PNG’s position remains “friends to all, enemies to none.”

Australia is PNG’s largest donor partner allocating billions of Kina worth of aid annually.

SOURCE: NBC PNG NEWS/PACNEWS