SYDNEY, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) Peter O'Neill has criticized Australia's visa application process after it was revealed that only 139 PNG citizens had taken part in last year's Seasonal Workers Program (SWP).
Addressing the South Pacific nation's parliament on Thursday, O'Neill said that while his government respects Australia's role in the region, its unfair and avidly strict approach to PNG workers has adversely affected the two countries' relationship.
"It is unfortunate that Papua New Guineans are having a harder time getting visas today," he said.
"The Australian visa acquiring process is quite discriminatory I must say and this is part of the reason why we have so few locals going for the SWP in Australia."
In order to address the matter, O'Neill told the parliament he will look to make inroads with Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure there is a greater number of seasonal workers from PNG in the coming years.
"We will work on improving the numbers, but what I can say about our workers who go to Australia is that they are spoken of in high regard by Australian farmers and other entities that use the SWP," O'Neill said.