BY ALFRED PAGEPITU
AUSTRALIA is considering ‘further opening up its doors’ to Solomon Islanders, it is reported.
This is if the Solomon Islands government reconsiders its move to recognise Beijing over Taipei.
Sources tell Island Sun that Australian Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, will make the announcement this week to his Solomon Islands counterpart, Mr Manasseh Sogavare.
Among this new package of privileges Solomon Islanders can now access from Australia is an easier admittance for permanent residency (PR) for Solomon Islanders.
However, by Solomon Islanders, it means any person who is born and raised in the Solomon Islands only.
Regular seasonal workers to Australia are also poised to get PR status easily should they wish to apply.
A special visa arrangement is also in the list, which sources say will involve removal of current stringent measures or requirements applicants have to satisfy.
“Special dispensation will be made to Solomon Islanders to easily obtain permanent residency in Australia,” sources tell Island Sun last night.
“This means more better medical and health care, which until now have only been enjoyed by the rich few and politicians in Solomon Islands, will be easily available for Solomon Islanders to come to Australia to get.
“Regular seasonal workers to Australia will also receive special dispensation to get PR in Australia.
“This also means retired health care service will be now available to Solomon Islanders.
“Also, for local business people of Solomon Islands, this will be the opportunity they have been waiting for to make easier and bigger investments in Australia,” sources say.
A senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET), answering queries from the paper last night on condition of anonymity, says this is news which is yet to reach MFAET.
“This is news to me,” says the official.
“I can only confirm that we have not received any such information nor dialogue from Canberra, but I will check with the Minister tomorrow.”
Island Sun understands that Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele is currently in Taiwan, having left on Saturday (September 7) for a one-week trip.
Attempts to gauge comments from the Press Secretary to the Prime Minister were futile last night before this paper went to press.