PM wants visa on arrival in Australia to avoid weeks or months wait for Solomon Islanders
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare tonight appeals to Canberra to grant visa for Solomon Islanders on arrival just as his government is offering to Australians on arrival in the country.
Speaking during the Australia Day celebration in Honiara tonight, Sogavare made the appeal through the Australian High Commissioner in Honiara for the relaxation of visa between the two countries.
He said: “Solomon Islands offer concessional visas for Australians to visit Solomon Islands at any time and visas are granted on arrival. In this regard Solomon Islands would like to see a reciprocal arrangement so that Solomon Islanders can travel to Australia without having to wait for weeks and sometimes for months for their visas.”
As highlighted by the Prime Minister, obtaining a visa to Australia can take weeks or months. This issue has always been raised at the official level— not only in the Solomons but in the entire region.
Tonight Sogavare has come out publicly to push for the ease of visa restrictions.
He said Solomon Islands has enjoyed a long standing relationship with Australia especially people to people contact.
Sogavare said a great number of Solomon Islanders reside in Australia either through family connections or as permanent residences and some have actually taken up Australian citizenship.
He said as partners and friends “we have continued to work together.”
“We have engaged in honest conversation and meaningful dialogue. Your partnership and friendship in this endevour will go a long way in making changes to the lives of the ordinary Solomon Islanders. Changes that will bring prosperity and economic opportunities for all Solomon Islanders,” he said.
Sogavare has also used the opportunity to commend Australia for its support to Solomon Islands especially in its fight against COVID-19.