Singapore

6-year Australia visa for Singaporeans

Those aged 18 to 30 can also qualify to work and holiday there for up to a year

From Jan 1 next year, Singaporeans travelling to Australia can get a six-year visa that lets them stay in the country for up to three months at a stretch.

The visa, exclusive to Singaporeans, is for leisure or business.

Now, Singaporeans enter Australia on permits that could be for three, six or 12 months.

Another new visa will let Singaporeans and Australians aged 18 to 30 work and holiday in each other's country for up to a year.

It is available from Aug 1 this year for up to 500 young people from each country.

The new visas were announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday, when he began his three-day visit to Singapore. He is here for the second Singapore-Australia Leaders' Summit.

"We are doing everything we can to facilitate more engagement and more connections between Australia and Singapore," said Mr Turnbull at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Last year, a million Australians visited Singapore, and 400,000 Singaporeans went to Australia.

Young Singaporeans who want the work and holiday visa must hold a polytechnic diploma or university degree, or have completed two years of full-time study at a polytechnic or university.

Australian applicants need a university degree, or should have completed two years of full-time undergraduate study at a university.

Mr Lee said Singapore and Australia are making progress in the joint development of training grounds in Queensland for Singapore troops.

He is looking forward to the training arrangements being finalised in a treaty next year, which will take forward the agreement inked last October to build training grounds for Singapore troops in Townsville and Shoalwater Bay.

The plans had to be revised after farmers refused to sell their land and lodged protests.

Despite scaling back land acquisition plans to expand the training areas, Australia's Department of Defence said in February that training requirements for both countries' armed forces can still be met.

Mr Turnbull said Australia remains committed to the expanded training areas, which bring "enormous opportunities for further collaboration between our defence forces".

Mr Lee expressed deep appreciation for Australia's continued support for the Singapore Armed Forces' training needs, which he said will benefit both defence forces and the local towns' economies.

Discussions are also underway to allow Singapore's Air Force to continue operating a training detachment at the main Royal Australian Air Force base in Western Australia for another 25 years.

Singapore and Australia will also intensify their cooperation in cyber security and scientific research under two agreements inked yesterday.

The first will see Singapore and Australia regularly exchange information on cyber security incidents and threats.

They will work together to build up cyber security resources and know-how in the region as well as hold joint cyber security exercises aimed at protecting critical information infrastructure.

Cyber security is a vital priority on the national security agenda of both countries, said Mr Turnbull.

"The digital age produces enormous opportunities, and few countries have progressed to the platform of the smartphone as quickly or as effectively as Singapore. But it brings with it great risks," he added.

Singapore has also signed cyber security cooperation agreements with the United States, France, India, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

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