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Australia agrees to introduce electronic visa for PNG travellers



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THE HON. CHRIS BOWEN AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

THE HON. RIMBINK PATO

PNG MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND IMMIGRATION

MEDIA RELEASE

7 November 2012

AUSTRALIA AGREES TO INTRODUCE ELECTRONIC VISA FOR PNG TRAVELLERS

Australia and Papua New Guinea will seek to further strengthen their close relationship with the introduction of a special electronic visa arrangement the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, and Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, announced today.

“Improving the ease of travel between Papua New Guinea and Australia, particularly for frequent travellers, is an important economic and cultural goal,” Mr Bowen said.

“While Australia maintains a universal visa regime through which we manage the entry and stay of all visitors from around the world, I believe there is an important opportunity to consider practical and meaningful ways to further enhance the visa and travel arrangements for visitors from Papua New Guinea within this universal regime.

“This announcement follows my recent meeting with Prime Minister O'Neill and ongoing discussions with Minister Pato.”

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Hon. Rimbink Pato stated: “The announcement by Minister Bowen of the introduction of an electronic visa arrangement for PNG travellers is timely and addresses PNG’s long standing request for more facilitative travel arrangements including visa on arrival.”

Both Ministers agreed to the establishment of a joint traveller facilitation taskforce comprising officials from the Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority.

The joint traveller facilitation taskforce is expected to identify legal and administrative requirements that would lead to the introduction of an electronic visa arrangement in the first half of 2013.

“With about 80 per cent of all visa applications from Papua New Guinea falling into the tourism and business activity categories, it is sensible to focus our attention on these travellers,” Mr Bowen said.

“This will not only cater for the largest proportion of travellers from Papua New Guinea, but will seek to enhance the significant cultural benefits and business opportunities that these travellers offer to both countries.”

“This degree of priority reflects the significance of the unique and special relationship which Australia and Papua New Guinea share,” Mr Bowen added.

Minister Pato said PNG travellers will welcome this announcement because they will have the privilege of applying for visas using the internet from their work places, homes or through selected travel agents instead of the long queues experienced in the past. PNG travellers requiring to travel at short notice will also benefit from shorter processing times that are offered by the electronic visa arrangement.

Media Contacts: Bill Kyriakopoulos 0400 510 802 (Minister Bowen) Mataio Rabura +675 3231500/+675 72689464 (Minister Pato)