Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo Reuters
Tens of thousands of New Zealanders will be excluded from
Australia's new national disability insurance scheme.
Legislation to establish the new safety net has been
introduced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and has the
backing of the federal Opposition.
But it has become the latest welfare measure to specifically
exclude New Zealanders who arrived after February 2001 and
have not gained permanent residency or citizenship.
New Zealanders arriving after that date are automatically
issued "non-protected" special category visas, which allow
them to live and work indefinitely in Australia but refuse
them access to most federal benefits and support payments,
ranging from the dole to student loans.
Kiwis were recently excluded from new benefits available to
all other Australian residents for injuries caused by acts of
The exclusions were imposed unilaterally by Australia as a
response to concerns about the cost of welfare payments and
"back door" immigration through New Zealand by Pacific
Islanders and Hong Kong Chinese.
The rules define non-protected SCVs as temporary visas, and
confine support only to those recognised as permanent
Australia's Racial Discrimination Act bans discrimination on
the basis of country of birth, but allows it on the basis of
Federal rules have also increasingly been adopted by the
states for an expanding range of support measures, including
government and emergency housing, student travel concessions
and disability support.
Queensland has introduced amendments to its
anti-discrimination laws to protect the state Government from
legal challenges, following recent court action including a
claim by disabled New Zealander Hannah Campbell. The case was
settled out of court.
The new federal disability insurance scheme, intended to
start in July next year, is designed to ensure adequate
support to all disabled Australian residents.
Introducing the bill, Ms Gillard said the disabled could not
bear their burdens alone but, relying on public provision,
were forced to endure a level of care that was often shameful
and generally insufficient.
She said that because the risk of disability was universal,
the response must be universal.
But this does not extend to New Zealanders on non-protected
- Greg Ansley in Australia