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Australia to introduce new multi entry visa card for frequent travellers from Pacific

The Pacific’s politicians, sports people and business travellers will be able to come and go from Australia with ease, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledges to treat the country’s ­regional neighbours as “family”.

A new multi-entry, multi-year visa card will be introduced for frequent travellers from Pacific ­nations from July next year.

The Prime Minister revealed the new arrangements to ­Pacific leaders at APEC late Sunday, before a barbecue for ­Pacific ­Island Forum nations at the Australian high commissioner’s Port Moresby residence.

It is understood that work on the policy had begun before Friday’s announcement by China and Papua New Guinea that their politicians and diplomats would receive reciprocal visa-free travel between the two nations.

“This is an important part of how we are managing these ­relationships,” Morrison said.

“This is what we do, we are friends, we are family. This is our family of nations we work with here in the Pacific, and we are there very much as an equal family member.”

The Department of Foreign ­Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is working on the rollout of the card with the ­Department of Home Affairs.

Australia has been pulling out all stops to improve relations with ­Pacific island nations, flying a large group of regional leaders to Papua New Guinea for this year’s APEC conference in an RAAF A-330, escorted by two F/A 18 Super Hornets.

Morrison served Pacific leaders kangaroo sausages at last night’s “family barbecue” aimed at emphasising, in low-key Aus­tralian style, the high regard that Australia has for its neighbours.

The event was in stark contrast to the lavish celebrations surrounding China during President Xi Jinping’s state visit to PNG in recent days.

Australia’s tough visa rules have long been a sore point in relationships with neighbouring countries, particularly PNG, which argue they are poorly treated while Australia and New Zealand have an open-door policy for each other’s citizens.


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