Aussie P.M. to visitors: Go home

Samoans who are in Australia on visitors visas have been urged to return home if they are unable to support themselves due to the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

The message comes from Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who told the media in Australia that people visiting Australia or foreign students who are unable to support themselves should start making plans to go home.

Mr. Morrison said Australia must focus on its citizens and residents.

 “These (student) visas, and those who are in Australia under various visa arrangements, they are obviously not held here compulsorily,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“If they are not in a position to support themselves then there is the alternative for them to return to their home countries.

“We still have quite a number of people who are here on visitor visas.”

The Australian Prime Minister added that as much as it is lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times it is time for visitors to return home to ensure they can get the support they need and have help available from their respective country.

Attempts to get a comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T.) and Samoa’s Consulate General Office in Sydney were unsuccessful. 

It could not be confirmed by press time if there are any Samoans in Australia are intending to return home due to COVID-19 especially with the border closure in Australia, New Zealand and Samoa.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour, Chief Executive Officer, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling assured that seasonal workers in Australia and New Zealand are safe and getting support in the countries.

Pulotu confirmed that none of the seasonal workers have requested to return home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If anyone intends to come home during this time we will put forward that request and seek advise but so far no one has asked to come back home,” he said.

“We are providing information sheets from our Ministry of Health [in Samoan language] on hygiene and what they need to be aware for prevention measures…So far everyone is safe.”

A Government press release in November stated there are 700 Samoans currently employed in Australia under the Canberra’s Seasonal Workers Program and the Pacific Labour Scheme.

A total of 56 Australian scholarships for Samoan students were announced for 2019 intake. 

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