Stephen Howes

Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.


    • Devpolicy Blog will soon share an update including practical information for applicants. The Australian Government is still advising that the PEV is scheduled to be launched in 2024, with the exact date yet to be announced.

  • Thanks special to Australian government and New Zealand government also for their helping hand to our small country to get this opportunity for our people to be the part of their family through this visa, I wish am the who have it, God bless.

  • I think that the above visa quotas allocation proposal missed the point all together. The real underlying reason which born the Pacific Engagement visa is to help the small pacific island nations by producing a means for its population to migrate to Australia thereby strengthening their economy and the bond and ties between Australia and these small pacific island nations to
    keep them from the temptation of sliding to the other side of the fence into China’s welcoming arms with its “Loan to Own a Country” financial schemes, which it has already been dishing out quietly for decades, throughout to most of the Pacific island nations . The smaller the nation, and the poorer the population, the easier it is to fall prey into Ciina’s welcoming arms. This is the reason why the Australalian foreign minister Ms. Penny Wong visited these small Pacific island nations as soon as the Labour government won the election. It was to strengthen the ties and bonds between Australia and its small Pacific nations neighbours, and hence the reason for the Pacific Engagement visa. For this reason the pacific engagement visa quotas must be allocated strategically, with a military point of view in mind. Not just by diasporas, population, and the size of the country only, but rather careful considerations must be given to these small islands nation’s economic status topmost, and their geograpgic locations. If you consider the locations of the nations named in the proposed tables above with the smallest quotas, they have some of the largest international water rights to sea areas amongst them in the South Pacific. If you combine these sea areas and their international water rights together according to their location, then you can see what China sees as the whole picture. If it can LEGALLY control, let alone own these small nations with their VAST sea rights, then there is nothing in the world that can stop them owning the rights to the waterways of the South Pacific and setting up strategic naval bases in these island nations right in front of Australia’s doordtep. This is what the Australian government is trying to avoid from happening. This is why Australia is trying hard now to revive and strenghten the close ties and strong bonds with these Pacific Island nations, where some have been neglected and overlooked over the years, including Papua New Guinea and the solomon islands. This is the sad underlying truth behind the Australian government’s efforts to secure the security of the Soth Pacific from China’s web of ecoconomic strategic planning to control the Pacific not with bullets, but with cash. This is why the Pacific Engagement visa was born, to keep the warm ties between Australia and the poorer small nations of the South Pacific from falling into the temptations of the Chinese dollars dangling from the other side of the fence. Therefore the quotas allocations fot this Pacific engagement visa, should take the economic status of each island nation into consideration first, when allocating quotas which will help keep them warm towards Australia by showing that Australia cares, and is still the Watchdog of the Pacific, as it has been throughout the years.

    • Hi Victor, When Labor first announced the PEV, it said that the quotas would be allocated proportional to population. Since coming to government, it has put out a statement with a slightly more complex allocation formulae but along similar lines – see You are arguing that economic status should also be taken into account. In fact, the larger Pacific/TL countries are also the poorer (PNG, TL, SI) so this would reinforce the original intent to distribute them on the basis of population.

  • After getting independence in 1975 from Australia, PNG has been left in the dark for decades. There were no social relationships with the Australian people. Before independence there were stronger social relationships like motorbike racing, gumi race and many fun activities where Papua New Guineans used to enjoy with the Aussies growing heart to heart and love to love and there was a big cut off after Independence. The new generations are wondering who are Australians because they don’t see them any more. China has crept in without resistance and have taken PNG by 70%. By making visa accessible to PNG citizens to visit Australia , educational purposes, employ skilled and unskilled workers will generate the heart to heart and love to love relationship that was cut off by independence. Should Australia face war or natural catastrophic situations, all of PNG will give full support to Australia rather than the Chinese influence to support China.

  • Looking forward to the Pacific engagement visa applications opening in July. This will greatly ease the labor crisis in PNG and give greater opportunities to Papua New Guineans and Pacific Islanders to take on the challenge of resettling in Australia as skilled migrants.

  • Thank you Australia and New Zealand for this Pacific Engagement Visa program coming soon. The industries in Australia need more skilled labours and why not most of us can make it through this time. Waiting to apply for one asap and why not.

  • Thanks for a very interesting and persuasive piece. Sundry thoughts:

    The analysis highlights the gross underrepresentation of Melanesian people in immigration to Australia. How many ex-colonial countries have been so diligent in keeping their former subjects out? The Whitlam Institute’s Pacific & PNG Perspectives reports made clear just how much the difficulty of access to Australia is resented by people living in the arc from PNG to Fiji. It is definitely good for this proposal to identify them as priority countries – data backing up natural justice.

    It would be an interesting exercise to go one step further to look at whether particular places within each country enjoy disproportionate access – and what if anything might be done about it.

    In the longer term it would seem to be logical for Australia & New Zealand to harmonise their Pacific immigration processes – as this shows the current patchwork of front door and back door access is not the most efficient way of doing things. Bring on a Pacific Schengen system!

  • Australia needs to do something fast or her ignorance will see China rise. Melanesian have been neglected for far too long so it will be tough play. Let’s roll the dice!

    Prioritise Melanesian visa’s and you will have the influence!

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