New Pacific Migration Scheme The Latest Move to Counteract Beijing’s Influence in the Region

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has travelled to the Pacific region twice in two weeks as the new federal government pushes its Pacific engagement strategy which it hopes can bolster Australia’s presence in the region to counter Beijing.Wong, sworn in as new foreign minister on May 22, said during bilateral talks with Samoa and Tonga on June 2 and 3 that the new Albanese government was seeking to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to the region while promoting a new migration scheme. “We want to put more energy and more resources into the Pacific,” Wong said in Samoa. “We have made a commitment to engage more closely and to listen respectfully. We understand we need to work together, as part of the Pacific family, in ways we are called on to do so, now more than ever. We want to make a uniquely Australian contribution to the Pacific family.” This handout picture released by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on June 2, 2022 shows Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (R) attending a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Samoa Fiame Naomi Mata’afa in Apia. (Sarah Friend/Courtesy of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. (D/AFP via Getty Images) The Labor government has decided to boost migration from the Pacific to Australia, with 3,000 new visa placements on offer, which will also allow workers to bring their families with them. Speaking at a press conference in Tonga, Wong said the Pacific Engagement Visa would be coming online soon and would allow people to “permanently migrate with rights to go backwards and forwards obviously.” “It is about building the people-to-people links we share with the Pacific,” she said noting that the Australian government would work with Tonga and other parties to design the program to best serve the interests of people in the region. The scheme is modelled on the New Zealand Pacific Access Resident Category visa program and will be available for those aged between 18 and 45 years with a job on offer in Australia from July 2023. Applicants can also include partners and dependent children up to 24 years of age and must be able to pass English language, character, and health tests. The Albanese government will also expand existing labour schemes to allow current visa holders to bring their families to Australia. “We’re conscious of the deep, personal and familial ties between people, not just the Tongan diaspora, but the Pacific diaspora more broadly,” Wong said. Speaking to ABC radio on June 3, Wong said the efforts were all part of the government’s hope to counteract the increased influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the region. “I think what we’re seeing is China being much more active in the region. That’s been well documented, well-reported and confirmed by what the Chinese government has said,” Wong said. “What we have to do is to lift our engagement in the region. “We have to do more work than has been previously been done in the region. That’s certainly what the next few years looks like.” “I think leaders here understand that in the circumstances in which we live, we need to focus on how we work with regional partners for their development, for climate and for the broader security issues.” Follow Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.

New Pacific Migration Scheme The Latest Move to Counteract Beijing’s Influence in the Region

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has travelled to the Pacific region twice in two weeks as the new federal government pushes its Pacific engagement strategy which it hopes can bolster Australia’s presence in the region to counter Beijing.

Wong, sworn in as new foreign minister on May 22, said during bilateral talks with Samoa and Tonga on June 2 and 3 that the new Albanese government was seeking to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to the region while promoting a new migration scheme.

“We want to put more energy and more resources into the Pacific,” Wong said in Samoa. “We have made a commitment to engage more closely and to listen respectfully. We understand we need to work together, as part of the Pacific family, in ways we are called on to do so, now more than ever. We want to make a uniquely Australian contribution to the Pacific family.”

Epoch Times Photo
This handout picture released by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on June 2, 2022 shows Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (R) attending a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Samoa Fiame Naomi Mata’afa in Apia. (Sarah Friend/Courtesy of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. (D/AFP via Getty Images)

The Labor government has decided to boost migration from the Pacific to Australia, with 3,000 new visa placements on offer, which will also allow workers to bring their families with them.

Speaking at a press conference in Tonga, Wong said the Pacific Engagement Visa would be coming online soon and would allow people to “permanently migrate with rights to go backwards and forwards obviously.”

“It is about building the people-to-people links we share with the Pacific,” she said noting that the Australian government would work with Tonga and other parties to design the program to best serve the interests of people in the region.

The scheme is modelled on the New Zealand Pacific Access Resident Category visa program and will be available for those aged between 18 and 45 years with a job on offer in Australia from July 2023. Applicants can also include partners and dependent children up to 24 years of age and must be able to pass English language, character, and health tests.

The Albanese government will also expand existing labour schemes to allow current visa holders to bring their families to Australia.

“We’re conscious of the deep, personal and familial ties between people, not just the Tongan diaspora, but the Pacific diaspora more broadly,” Wong said.

Speaking to ABC radio on June 3, Wong said the efforts were all part of the government’s hope to counteract the increased influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the region.

“I think what we’re seeing is China being much more active in the region. That’s been well documented, well-reported and confirmed by what the Chinese government has said,” Wong said. “What we have to do is to lift our engagement in the region.

“We have to do more work than has been previously been done in the region. That’s certainly what the next few years looks like.”

“I think leaders here understand that in the circumstances in which we live, we need to focus on how we work with regional partners for their development, for climate and for the broader security issues.”


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Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.