YEHIURA HRIEHWAZI in Brisbane
THERE is an unprecedented interest and excitement among the Australian business community, especially among Queenslanders, to get involved in the PNG LNG project as with a surge in number of visitors travelling to PNG.
While the exact number of visitors and business visas issued by the Brisbane Consulate to Australians visiting PNG was not immediately available, there was a total of A$140,000 (K347,000) generated in visa fees last month alone, the PNG Consul General in Brisbane Paul Nerau, said.
“The number of business and visitors visas issued last month is the highest ever recorded in any month,” he said, “and it’s increasing.”
This had never happened in the last 15 years since the setting up of the PNG Consulate in Brisbane.
This was mainly driven by the PNG LNG project, Mr Nerau noted, saying the enormity of the project must be understood.
He has re-organised his office to ensure that all the visitors walking into the office are attended to quickly and he now has one staff working through lunch hour to handle visa enquiries.
Mr Nerau is also extremely busy answering to enquiries from business houses.
“I am encouraging them to get into joint ventures with PNG businesses. I am telling them to go to Port Moresby, set up office there, train our people, pay tax in PNG and employ our people. There must be a win-win situation for the investor and for PNG,” he said.
Only recently, he had staged a trade seminar in Cairns where 120 business groups attended and held one in Townsville (95 businesses) and Brisbane (120).
Mr Nerau has also spoken to some trucking and heavy machinery companies and urged them to open up driving schools in Port Moresby and train drivers because ExxonMobil will need 1,000 drivers.
“This is among the side things I’m doing to help move things along,” he said.