By Delly Bagu – EM TV, Port Moresby
A six-page joint communiqué was released yesterday following the 23rd Papua New Guinea – Australia Ministerial Forum in Port Moresby.
This was during a media conference that was held late yesterday afternoon by the Ministerial Forum co-chairs, Rimbink Pato, PNG’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration and Julie Bishop, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The joint communiqué highlighted the progress PNG has made concerning final refugee determinations for refugees at the Regional Resettlement Agreement.
Mr Pato announced that he approved for 50 genuine refugees to be settled in the community.
Effectively, the 50 genuine refugees will be moved to the East Lorengau facility which will prepare them for integration into society, once a policy framework is developed. The policy is not finalised as yet but Mr Pato said it is being developed.
PNG has also introduced arrangements where refugees who don’t apply for refugee visas, will not be allowed to remain indefinitely at Lombrum on Manus.
Ministers agreed that the Regional Resettlement Agreement will be reviewed, but until then, the Agreement will remain in effect.
On another matter, PNG reiterated its request for Australia to provide visa on arrival facilities for Papua New Guinea’s.
In the meantime, there is progress on finalising arrangements to bring a Work and Holiday visa into effect.
The new visa will allow up to 100 Australians and 100 Papua New Guinea’s, aged between 18 and 30, per year, to enjoy a working holiday in the other country for up to 12 months.
The Ministerial Forum is seen as an important mechanism to focus on key, current and strategic issues in the bilateral relationship.
The next Ministerial Forum will be held in Australia in 2015.