Publisher’s Letter: Being fair dinkum in the visa debate


Large parts of our world community are at present grappling with the rights and wrongs of the WikiLeaks scandal.

The information from WikiLeaks now circling the globe is largely supporting the fact that the official public stance taken by governments around the world isn’t always what is being really felt behind closed doors. There’s nothing new in that sentiment, but now we have WikiLeaks to prove it.
If WikiLeaks has reinforced anything at all, it is that the global community has a responsibility to watch and assess government actions, rather then accepting the daily rhetoric from our many levels of government leaders
Of deep concern to me as Publisher of Australia China Connections, and through my regular contact with Chinese and Australian businesses alike, is Australia’s current stance on visa regulations for Chinese nationals coming to visit Australia.
While our federal and various state government tourism authorities spend millions of dollars on campaigns to attract tourists from China (Australia’s fourth largest source of international tourists and only set to rise in the next few years), the tourist visa application process continues to remain a nightmare for Chinese would-be-visitors.
Why does a Chinese tourist hoping to visit our country for a two-week holiday, and who holds a return ticket, have to present bank statements showing personal wealth or otherwise? Our 12-page visa application form could be easily misconstrued as Australia’s way of saying it doesn’t really want them after all.
Then there is the import of industrial equipment from China. Much of this equipment often requires the Chinese manufacturer send their own skilled staff to Australia to install it.
The temporary visa applications for these situations are extremely lengthy and cumbersome. I have witnessed a number of situations, where Australian importers are handicapped by Australian government procedures in the process of gaining temporary entry to these Chinese workers and that when an extension is required, the worker must return to China to apply for it.
This does not suggest Australia is ‘fair dinkum’ about its very public face to China that it wants to do business.
And what about education? Australia’s fourth biggest export? Do we want Chinese students studying in Australia or not? While in the public arena, Australia continues to reiterate to China that Australian universities are an ideal place to study, (Chris Evans’ recent visit to China a prime example), the visa situation does not reflect this.
Sure, there was a need to refine Australia’s skilled migration criteria away from chefs and hairdressers, but it now seems we have gone to the other extreme making it near impossible for Chinese students to come here and study.
Even the rules and regulations for business migration have dramatically changed, yet there has been no public statements suggesting these are all part and parcel of Australia’s effort to limit Chinese immigration into the country.
Do we need to wait for WikiLeaks to inform the public that our current government has decided to dramatically slow down all visa applications from China and other parts of the world? Actions speak louder than words and I don’t believe these current measures are in our country’s best interest.
Carl Jetter,
Publisher, Australia China Connections


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