Economics Professor on Regional Visa and Pacific Labour Scheme
by Marcelle P. Villegas - October 04, 2021
Stephen Howes, Professor of Economics, Crawford School of Public Policy (ANU College of Asia and the Pacific) [Photo credit: Australian National University]
In a commentary of Stephen Howes, Director of the Development Policy Center and a Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy, shared his opinion and discussed how the June ASEAN agricultural visa announcement could develop or evolve. He noted three possibilities.
First point he made is the possibility that Asian countries will by allowed to join the Pacific Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). Another scheme might be in place as well for Asian countries. Lastly, "existing backpacker caps for Asians to work in Australia would be increased." 
An announcement made last August by a group of Ministers on both sides of the Coalition entails that a new Australian Agriculture visa is to be created in addition to the SWP and PLS. However, the commentary notes that "it is hard to believe that the regulations for the new visa will be in place by the end of next month."
"Agriculture Minister David Littlepround highlighted the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam (and the UK) in his ABC interview."
However, the press release only says that the Australian Agriculture visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries negotiated through bilateral agreements. No countries were mentioned.
"Despite these assurances, the press release is in some ways more alarming than the initial Littleproud announcement," said Howes.
Aside from the agriculture sector, the new visa covers other related industry such as the meat processing, forestry, and fishing. Administration of the new visa is to be given to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Even with DFAT being assigned to handle the new visa, some speculate that this might pose a threat to the Pacific labour mobility in the PLS. The meat processing industry comprises 71% of the PLS jobs, while agriculture and horticulture is 21%.
"If employers in these two sectors switch to the new visa PLS will collapse," according to Howes.
He also points out that the SWP might also be in danger. "The risks are especially high given the press release's commitment to a 'demand-driven approach' -- the implication being that the new visa will be uncapped. The Australian Agriculture visa lacks public policy justification. All the sectors covered by it are already covered by the PLS."
Timor-Leste and the Pacific island nations sends workers under the SWP and PLS, and they have to meet the demand for labour in those sectors.
"If this new visa is to have a pathway to permanency built into it (something which the press release says will be considered) then so too should the PLS. And whatever safeguards are applied to the PLS should equally apply to this scheme," said Howes.
 Howes, Stephen (30 Aug. 2021). "Yesterday's Regional Visa announcement: The End of the PLS?". Post-Courier. Retrieved from -
Note: The article by Stephen Howes that was published on Post-Courier first appeared on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Center at the Australian National University. ret
Photo credit - https://crawford.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/5686/developing-research-centre-region
PNG Business News - March 09, 2021
INVITATION TO THE 36TH AUSTRALIA PAPUA NEW GUINEA BUSINESS FORUM AND TRADE EXPO
The Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council and the Business Council of Papua New Guinea are pleased to be re-launching the 36th Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo, which was deferred from 2020 to 24 to 26 May 2021. For the first time ever, this event will be held concurrently in Brisbane (at the Royal International Convention Centre), Port Moresby (at Hilton Port Moresby Hotel) and also online, with a shared speaking program. The Forum theme for this year is “Reimagining the Future Papua New Guinea”. The theme aims to capture the important message that Australia and Papua New Guinea along with the rest of the world, must move and pivot with the times and circumstances in order to prosper. It also looks to advance discussion about greater diversity in the PNG economy. Coronavirus and all its related restrictions and issues, along with advancements in technology mean that we must, collectively, think of different ways to work in trade, economy and indeed life. Online connectivity appears to be one of the important forms of communication that will continue for the foreseeable future. This Forum is distinctly established as the leading annual bilateral business meeting between Australia and Papua New Guinea, and builds on the work both Councils have done over more than three decades in growing the bilateral business relationship. The program for the Forum includes an overview of the political and economic climate, particularly issues which affect business and investment, and will include specific sessions by expert presenters on topics such as the Covid-19 Pandemic, emerging economic business opportunities in PNG, agribusiness, infrastructure, SME growth, Papua New Guineans in the Australian labour market, and resources. Key government ministers from Australia and Papua New Guinea, and a range of other expert speakers, have been invited to address the Forum to inform business representatives of policy issues in their portfolio relevant to business, and they will be able to join us from whichever location they are in, whether Brisbane, Port Moresby or elsewhere. Delegates will be able to engage in lively interaction with presenters in most sessions either live in person, or via the online platform with a Q&A feature. Video recordings of presentations will become available online soon after they are given so that delegates may go back and revisit portions they may have missed. There is something in the program for just about anyone who has an interest in the bilateral business and economic relationship and in the economy of Papua New Guinea. Delegates will be able to connect via the online platform by sending messages and/or booking appointment times with each other, particularly if they are not attending the Forum at the same venue. The Forum will again feature a Trade Expo for Australian and Papua New Guinean companies wishing to use the opportunity to match their goods and services to clients and purchasers in each country, and to broaden their business relationship. An innovative development this year is that all the trade booths will be online, with a limited number of physical booths at each location (as well as online) due to Covid restrictions. Booth exhibitors will be able to display their corporate logo, upload documents and short videos for visitors, include links to their own website, and chat one-on-one with delegates online, who can request meeting times with them via the online platform. This is a new, exciting and pioneering way to do things, and we will endeavour to have answers for you immediately should you encounter any problems while using the online platform. Register early for this conference as in-person spots at each location are limited and demand will be heavy. To register, complete the online booking process at https://events.apngbc.org.au/event/36APNG/. Please take care to show where/how you wish to participate. There are many new features that we will be introducing during this Forum as we look to resume regular business to business engagement, which has been so disrupted during the last year. This is a very good value conference. Enquiries about registration, Trade Expo bookings and accommodation should be directed to the secretariat of the Australia Papua New Guinea Business Council, on telephone + 61 7 3348 5142 or by e-mail at email@example.com or to the Business Council of Papua New Guinea on telephone + 675 323 8465, fax + 675 323 5162 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hosting you at the 36th Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum and Trade Expo on 24-26 May 2021, whether in Brisbane, Port Moresby, or Online.
PNG Business News - May 03, 2021
Agriculture and Extractive Industries Projected to Expand in 2021
According to the Asian Development Bank's 2021 forecast, the extractive and agricultural industries are projected to expand in 2021. Mine and quarry production could rise in 2021 and 2022, according to the ADB's recently issued forecast for 2021, as favourable international metal prices spur production. The Lihir and Ok Tedi mines, both multibillion-dollar ventures, are projected to increase gold production in 2021 after a tough year in 2020, while oil and gas production is expected to plateau. However, two new mineral and petroleum developments on the horizon, the Wafi-Golpu gold and copper mine and the Papua LNG project, both multibillion-dollar projects, have the potential to drive substantial development. In 2021, Papua LNG is scheduled to begin front-end engineering and design. Meanwhile, the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sectors are projected to rise by more than 3% in 2021, owing to low demand in 2020. If conditions improve, transportation and storage, hotels and lodging, and renovation can all improve. Capital spending is expected to increase by 16.9% in 2021 and another 9.7% in 2022, according to the National Budget for 2021. The resulting stimulus would boost growth and local industries, but successful implementation would depend on development partners' support, according to the outlook.
PNG Business News - July 21, 2021
PNG and New Zealand PMs Sign MoU
The prime ministers of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand have signed a memorandum of agreement to further their cooperation. The leaders signed a Statement of Partnership in a virtual conference, reinforcing efforts to work through issues of trade and economics, as well as regional solidarity, amid the epidemic. PNG's Prime Minister, James Marape, has suggested that New Zealand and Australia must do more to help Pacific economies cope with Covid-19. "As I have stated to the Japanese Prime Minister at a recent meeting, and again at the recent Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting, we would like to call on these bigger countries to step in and intervene, create 'economic bubble' or put in similar measures to assist these smaller economies. "Many of us are really stuck. Fiji, for example, survives on tourism dollars. For us, Covid19 is not just a health issue; it is also an economic issue as well," Marape explained. Ardern sounded receptive, saying the new Statement of Partnership underlined New Zealand's commitment to tight economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties with Papua New Guinea. "It is an important milestone in our relationship. By formalising the values, priorities and principles which underpin our strengthening partnership, we've set a clear pathway forward for the future engagement between our countries." "We look forward to continuing to work alongside Papua New Guinea on issues facing our Pacific region, including the ongoing management of COVID-19 and the regional economic recovery," Ardern said. The statement said the countries have committed to "a safe and stable Pacific region where Pacific sovereignty is respected, and unhindered access to open waterways and marine resources are preserved, in line with the international rules-based system". Bougainville link The two presidents also spoke about Bougainville, PNG's autonomous province, which had a historic referendum in 2019 in which over 98 per cent of voters opted for independence from PNG. Negotiations between Bougainville's autonomous administration and PNG's national government, as well as wide-ranging discussions, must take place before PNG's parliament can consider whether to accept the outcome. Marape updated Ardern on the current status of the discussions, expressing his thanks for New Zealand's long-term assistance in ending the civil conflict on Bougainville and the ensuing peace process, which the referendum is a part of. "Thank you also for your interventions in the matter of the Bougainville Referendum and under your leadership, we have been able to ramp up our warm relationship through the New Zealand and Papua New Guinea Statement of Partnership," Marape said. He also requested New Zealand's assistance in providing 'eminent individuals' to mediate the Bougainville discussions once more. Other topics discussed were PNG's public sector reforms based on the New Zealand model, as well as PNG's labour export to New Zealand. Marape and Ardern also talked about Micronesia's decision to resign from the Pacific Islands Forum, with both leaders pledging to attempt to prevent this from happening. The gathering served as a warm-up for the APEC Informal Leaders Retreat on July 16th, with Marape emphasizing the importance of the group's role in assisting smaller Pacific nations. "The APEC family of nations can also assist (us) to maintain specific niche trade while being sensitive to COVID19, as many of our island nations are dependent on these niche businesses for the sustenance of our economies." Reference: RNZ (15 July 2021). “'Economic bubble' idea floated as PNG and NZ sign partnership”.
PNG Business News - May 16, 2022
Get over it... with PNG Forest Products' NiuBridge
Photo: NiuBridge on the Boluminski Hwy, New Ireland, PNG You know how they say, “Build a bridge… and get over it”? Well with PNGFP NiuBridge you don’t have to build it, because it’s already built! These expertly designed and engineered modular bridges are prefabricated to your specifications by PNG Forest Products. With a design life of 50+ years and installed cost base typically under half that of equivalent concrete or steel, NiuBridge is the ideal, most cost-effective solution for bridging installations in Papua New Guinea. The NiuBridge System includes deck, girders, kerbing and accessories, and comes with a pre-applied bitumen surface. Little maintenance is required thanks to PNGFP’s unique veneer preservation treatment, ensuring complete protection from termites and rotting. NiuBridge is manufactured from PNG plantation pine to both AS/NZS 2269 and AS/NZS 1604 standards and exploits the advantages of natural timber, which is not subject to fatigue failure, unlike other materials such as steel and concrete. Available in single lane, dual lane, or custom design, NiuBridge is suitable for a range of load conditions including Austroads T44 and AS 500 Bridge Design. NiuBridge and sister product NiuDeck are widely used by local and state governments across Australia. The peak body for the timber industry in Queensland has welcomed these products as a demonstration of the versatility and innovation of using Engineered Wood Products in bridge construction. “Using prefabricated timber systems in bridges is gaining greater market recognition due to their inherent strength, light weight and low carbon emissions footprint compared to other construction materials”, said the CEO of Timber Queensland, Mick Stephens. So next time you need to get over it, don’t waste valuable time and loads of money building a bridge. Buy a NiuBridge and get over it sooner and more cost effectively!
PNG Business News - May 16, 2022
Need help with to live, work and study in Australia and with student enrolments in EQI accredited schools? Ask Migration Plus!
Photo credit: Migration Plus Migration Plus is a leading Migration firm in Cairns, in the Far North Queensland region providing professional migration advice to students, individuals, government, businesses and corporate groups including the mining, hospitality, tourism, agricultural and air services industries. Migration Plus are also Education Agents with Qualified Education Counsellors on their team and they represent a number of reputable universities and colleges across Australia, including Education Queensland International (EQI) for student enrolments. They work closely with EQI and have successfully assisted PNG students enrol in schools across Queensland and also assisted with visa applications for the students for many years. With Australian borders opening to international visitors, temporary workers and international students, they can assist you with all migration matters for your business and family to visit, work or study in Australia. Now is the time to start your children’s enrolment to study in any of the EQI’s accredited schools from Prep to Year 12. Education Counsellors at Migration Plus can assist your children’s enrolment for Year 10, Semester 2, the important pathway into senior high school subjects through the Senior Education and Training Plan. Semester 2 commences in July 2022. With an in-depth knowledge of migration law, their specialist team provides a complete solution to your migration requirements and coordinate all facets of your migration needs. The Migration Plus team is very passionate about what they we do – the rewards of being able to assist in changing lives and helping clients achieve their goals is first and foremost. With over 90 years of combined experience available to you, you can count on their highly specialised team for accurate advice. Contact the Specialist team for further information.
Marcelle P. Villegas - May 16, 2022
Australia Opens Its Doors to International Students
Photo credit: Education Queensland International “International students are an important part of the Australian community, and we are excited to welcome them back to our classrooms, campuses and communities.” This was the announcement posted on their website by the Australian Government last February to herald the reopening of international travel to students. “Australia’s borders are open to fully vaccinated international students and Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders.”  “From 21 February 2022, all visa holders who are fully vaccinated for international travel purposes can travel to Australia without a travel exemption. Unvaccinated visa holders will still need to be in an exempt category or hold an individual travel exemption to enter Australia.”  The Australian Government said that international students will be subject to Australian Government border restrictions and any State and Territory quarantine and testing requirements. Quarantine and testing arrangements for State and Territories are frequently changing. Therefore, international students are advised to visit www.Australia.gov.au/states to be updated with the latest information and announcements of the Australian Government. In relation to this, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment has developed a “factsheet on the reopening of international travel to students” which is available for downloading from the website.  “All visa holders who are fully vaccinated in accordance with Australia’s international border entry requirements are able to arrive in Australia without needing an approved travel exemption. This includes fully vaccinated international students.”  Here are more important reminders from the Australian Government: People who do not meet Australia’s vaccination requirements for international travel must apply for a travel exemption to travel to Australia, unless they are in an exempt category. Visa holders who arrive in Australia may have their visa cancelled and be detained and removed if they: are not fully vaccinated for international travel purposes in accordance with Australia’s border entry requirements; or do not have a medical contraindication to a COVID-19 vaccine as defined by the Australian Government; or are not in an exempt category or hold an individual travel exemption. To be considered as “fully vaccinated for international travel purpose” to or from Australia, one should have completed a primary course of a vaccine approved or recognized by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This includes mixed doses. The currently approved or recognised vaccines for travel are the following: Two doses at least 14 days apart of AstraZeneca Vaxzevria, AstraZeneca Covishield, Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty, Moderna Spikevax or Takeda, Sinovac Coronavac, Bharat Biotech Covaxin, Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for people under 60 years of age on arrival in Australia), Gamaleya Research Institute Sputnik V, Novavax/Biocelect Nuvaxovid. Single-dose dose of Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine are also in the list of approved and recognized vaccines. “At least 7 days must have passed since the final dose of vaccine in a course of immunisation for you to be considered fully vaccinated for international travel purposes. Mixed doses count towards being fully vaccinated as long as all vaccines are approved or recognised by the TGA.” How about exceptions for vaccination requirements and arrangement for children? “People with acceptable proof they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and children under 12, can access the same travel arrangement as people who are fully vaccinated for international travel purposes.” Moreover, temporary visa holders who are younger than 18 years old at the time of departure for international travel to Australia do not require an approved travel exemption when the child is travelling with at least one adult who is fully vaccinated for international travel purposes. “Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 12-17 years old entering Australia may be exempt from passenger caps and eligible for reduced quarantine requirements. Travellers should always check the quarantine requirements for the state or territory they plan to travel to, or transit through, prior to arranging their travel.” “If the child is travelling with unvaccinated adult family members, then the entire family group will be subject to managed quarantine and passenger caps.” For more information on vaccination travel requirements, quarantine rules, and other related matter, visit https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/vaccinated-travellers. Reference:  https://www.dese.gov.au/reopening-international-travel-students  https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/vaccinated-travellers  Factsheet on the reopening of international travel to students https://www.dese.gov.au/reopening-international-travel-students/resources/factsheet-reopening-international-travel-students