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.


  • 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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