'It would have been easier if I had put them on a boat': Jeff arcs up over workers' visa delays

RED TAPE: Jeff Hort is frustrated he cannot teach skills to people from Papua New Guinea due to delays in visa approvals.
Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0605sgpng1

RED TAPE: Jeff Hort is frustrated he cannot teach skills to people from Papua New Guinea due to delays in visa approvals. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0605sgpng1

JEFF Hort’s idea to train people from Papua New Guinea to weld may have been a simple one, but getting them to Australian shores has proven a difficult task.

Mr Hort, who runs Jeff Hort Engineering and has worked in PNG in the past, has been trying for more than a year to bring trainees to Orange for a three-month stint, which would give them skills to take back home.

But attempts to secure visas from the Department of Immigration have so far proven unsuccessful.

“It would have been a lot easier if I had put them on a boat,” he said.

“I’m just trying to do something that’ll help others.”

Even though he was an approved sponsor for the temporary skilled work visa program, Mr Hort said it took some time to be approved as a sponsor for the education visa system.

Then the first two trainees were refused entry because they submitted applications for the wrong type of visa.

“They’ve challenged them again because the visas were rejected, but they were rejected because they filled out the wrong form - you’d think they’re killers or something,” Mr Hort said.

“It’s ridiculous, the first two trainees should have been done by now.”

He believed it would happen eventually, but did not know when the visas would be approved.

“I think they are just bogged down in their own system,” he said.

The idea was first broached during a trip to Orange’s sister city in PNG, Mount Hagan, in 2013.

Orange City Council sister cities committee chair and councillor Chris Gryllis shared Mr Hort’s frustrations, but said the process had to be followed.

“We haven’t been able to get where we want to, but the sister cities committee is looking forward to having this beautiful project,” he said.

However, he said the sister city program engaged in a range of programs and was still strong.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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