By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: TUESDAY 20 JANUARY 2015: A bigger Samoan population has a bearing on the market, rugby players and netball players, and the Prime Minister blames family planning for a seemingly static population at 180,000 for many years.
It even influences political decisions like the Australian government decision to base its visa application approvals for Pacific islanders in Fiji.
The issue came up in parliament today during the debate of the supplementary budget where Opposition MP Aveau Niko Palamo asked the Prime Minister if Australian visas could be processed and approved in Apia rather than the lengthy and costly current system.
“It’s all about numbers,” Tuilaepa told the House. “If they see we have only 30 applications compared to more from Fiji, despite our requests, the politicians will listen to their advisers based on the stats.”
Tuilaepa said he has also taken up the issue with the Australian Prime Minister but has not changed the decision.
That’s when the population dilemma came in.
“How many children do you have?” Tuilapea asked the member.
A father of eight and 19 grandchildren, Tuilaepa told the member he should make his contribution to the population issue as it affects rugby and netball and other things.
He said Australia realized Fiji has a much bigger population than Samoa and Australia would be a likely destination for the Fijian travelers.
Samoans on the other hand prefer traveling to New Zealand so there is no point in having a visa office in Samoa when only a few people travel to Australia.
Tuilaepa said the Australian visa issue is no different from what Samoa is facing with her static population which has remained at 180,000 for sometime now.
He also said if there was a change in the Samoan population, it was minimal, but since the introduction of family planning, the numbers have remained static for many years.
“Even when a light wind blows up a woman’s skirt, they cry family planning….” he told the House to some members’ laughter.