Govt enquires about permanent visa status in Australia

Australia Foreign Minister Penny Wong meets the press at Henderson last Friday.
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SOLOMON Islands government has asked Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong on the quota in the 3000 permanent visa for Pacific Islands countries.

However, the Australian Labour government is still to finalise the arrangement for the permanent visa.

This is part of the Labour government’s new Pacific migration policies after it came into power recently to allow Pacific Islanders working under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme to live permanently with their families in Australia.

Initially, the Australia Government issued shorter term visa under the Seasonal Workers Programme and longer-term visa under the Pacific Labour Mobility.

Senator Wong told media before her departure to Adelaide at Honiara International Airport last Friday that the issues of allocation were raised in the meeting with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and in her meetings in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

“Iam pleased there’s been a positive response.

“Obviously, there are issues we want to work through, including how would we allocate between different Pacific Islands nations,” she said.

Senator Wong said it’s a visa that is modelled on the New Zealand visa arrangement particularly with Polynesian islands.

“So, we will work through the details including how much, what is the allocations for each Pacific Islands nations with your government and others,” she said.

Furthermore, Senator Wong said a youth representative she met at Burns creek clinic spoke to her about labour mobility.

“Obviously we are working with local communities and government on development more broadly.

“But what has been raised with me is labour mobility,” she said.

“We come to your government with a commitment to strengthen labour mobility between our nation and members of the Pacific Islands nations

“I understand this is an area we can assist opportunities as well as economic benefits for families and individuals,” she added.

Currently there are more than 3000 Solomon Islanders working in Australia under the labour scheme in farms, meat industries and age care centres.