Want your own immigration queue? Host Australian asylum seekers

IMG-20130921-00024IMG-20140418-00117Last September, coming back from PNG via Brisbane, I noticed this sign (left) promising PNG citizens their own queue for quick entry into Australia. And this weekend, returning from PNG again through Brisbane I noticed this new sign (right): now Nauruans get the royal treatment as well.

It’s pretty obvious what has happened. Rudd agreed to the dedicated immigration queue (in Brisbane and Cairns) as part of the agreement with PNG last July that it would not only host, but also process and resettle asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. Nauru, which signed on to an almost identical agreement just a few weeks later, must have seen the PNG sign and complained.

So, too bad if you’re from Solomon Islands or Vanuatu or any other country at all in fact (apart from New Zealand). If you want your own queue in Brisbane, you better offer to do your part to take our asylum seekers. Will Cambodia be the next country to be given the red carpet treatment at Brisbane International?

image_pdfDownload PDF

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.


  • Is this special treatment or an insult to other Pasifika people? It would help to take the signs off. It intends to fool the PNG and Nauru people. The signs portray such a strong message that it not inserts other Pacific Island visitors but place Australia in the spotlight. This is what these signs say, “only certain group of people in the Pacific are wanted. The rest of you in the region can do whatever you want while in Australia, we don’t need you”. Perhaps it would be smart to remove the signs as it only insults the intelligence of the Pacific people. Whoever thought of such an idea should do themselves a favour and remove the signs. It pays to start work on a better solution which the SPC has tried in the past but failed because of such arrogance.

  • Interesting indeed. What the hell is going on with the Australian government? What Pacific Island countries need is not a special queue at the airport, and more boomerang aid packages but to relax the rule of entry for up to 30days + at least (like so many neighbouring countries in the world) so the exchange of goods, services and the movement of people between these neighbouring countries could flow. Why is Australia still carrying on with entry restrictions towards its former colonies in this modern era is beyond comprehension. I hope this could be an opportune time for PNG, Nauru and the Pacific Island countries to start negotiating free access to the Australia market to trade, sharing of skills, knowledge etc. as “good” neighbours do elsewhere. Free entry of Australians into PNG and the Pacific Island countries could free up time, money and speed up the movement of goods and services between the SPC countries and Australia. For a start, give preference to PNG and Nauru for free entry as they are the “Pacific solution” to Australian refugee problems then work with other Pacific Island states as they have been, and will, in one way or other, be the ‘solution’ to Australia’s ‘other’ problems in the future. Australia’s future is not in Europe or the USA but in Asia-Pacific.

Leave a Comment