Thursday, 19 July 2007 9:34 AM

Australian High Commission Office Denies Travel Ban

The Australian High Commission in Honiara denies reports of an imposed visa restriction on Solomon Islands Parliamentarians from traveling to or via Australia.

According to reports, a ban on Solomon Islands Members of Parliament from traveling to or via Australia was re-imposed by Australia.

However, the High Commission Office, in a statement, denied the reports as "not correct" instead saying when the Solomon Islands government expelled former High Commissioner Patrick Cole in 2006, the Australian government responded to the unfriendly act by canceling all Australian visas held by Solomon Islands MPs.

The report stated that many MPs at the time were in possession of multiple-entry visas that allowed them to visit Australia without having to apply for a visa at each occasion. The statement adds that following the cancel of all Australian visas, Solomon Islands MPs have been required to apply each time they wish to travel to Australia and their applications have been considered on a case-by-case basis.
The Australian High Commission stressed that a travel ban never existed.

The press statement went on to say that the visa application received from the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Employment, Peter Shanel, was not approved due to the last minute lodgment of the application.

Last week, Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer determined that the presence in Australia of two Solomon Islands Ministers who held visas to transit through Australia on their return from Europe, would be contrary to Australia's foreign policy interests. This resulted in the cancellation of the visas held by the Ministers.


Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province