Kiwis rally for rights in Australia

New Zealanders will rally together in cities around Australia to protest what they call unjust and discriminative immigration laws.

The rallies today, organised by the Iwi n Aus Foundation, will take place in Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria.

About 300,000 New Zealanders live across the Tasman on special category visas. This means they pay taxes but don't get access to benefits of permanent residency such as disability care, welfare and social housing.

The restrictions were brought in under a joint agreement between Australia's Liberal government and Helen Clark's Labour government in 2001.

Iwi n Aus, run by a group of mothers, says the discriminative laws are affecting not only their children but their Australian-born grandchildren.

Founder Erina Anderson says Kiwis often cross the Tasman with no concept of how bad it can get for them in Australia.

"If Prime Minister John Key wanted to stop New Zealanders from coming to Australia, there's one simple way thing he could do - tell people what they can expect," she told AAP.

"Nobody would willingly pick up their family and move across if they knew their children weren't going to be afforded equal rights."

She says through her work she sees many New Zealanders suffering from mental illness and extreme financial stress after falling on hard times in Australia.

Many Kiwis can't get permanent residency because their occupations aren't on Australia's wanted-skills list, and therefore also can't get citizenship, she says.

Families in Australia also have children with different rights, depending on when and where they were born.

"How do you say to your children who are going through high school, the ones of you who are citizens or permanent residents can go to university because you can get a student loan, but sorry darling you can't because you were born in Auckland?"

Kiwi mothers and fathers are not entitled to single parent payments, so even if their children are born in Australia, the death of their Aussie spouse or a separation could leave them without the means to support their children.

Her Australian foster kids have been disadvantaged by her New Zealand status, missing out on carers' payments for their special needs, Ms Anderson says.

"If I knew what I know, I would not have come," Ms Anderson said.

"No way would I have brought five kids across the Tasman and many of us feel bad that we have."

But it's not as simple as just packing up and going home, she says.

"Does that mean my sons who are fathers to Australian children, should they leave?"

"Should they abandon their partners to go back to where they came from?"

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he expected New Zealanders to be "lifters not leaners".

But Ms Anderson says it's not about Kiwis mooching off unemployment benefits.

"I wouldn't be wasting my time lobbying for the dole, I've got better things to do with my time."


Australia instigated this to stop the influx of Asians. They are not allowed direct passage into Australia so they come here first and get citizenship and once they have that, are straight off to Aussie. So to stop this, policy was put in place but sadly it is to the detriment of all NZers.

Glad I live here

I agree with you Lyndon,  I didn't say it was fair, just that that was a reason behind it, the previous person was asking why and said it didn't make sense. 

I remember it well when it happened,  there was quite a lot of publicity at the time and my sister was very annoyed because she had been thinking about immigrating and it came in just months before she left.  She left as others did knowing they would not have the same rights,  so did my son when he graduated from uni and wanted work in the field he was trained for and there were better opportunities over there. 

My sister is still on the Gold Coast working at age 65,  it hasn't been a better move for them financially  but they like it so they put up with things the way they are.   I'm sure underneath it must irk that they can't vote,  and the superannuation that they will get as residents (they did get residency, not citizenship) is means tested and their property investments have not done as well as what they thought they would.  

Unfortunately the grass is always greener and people  don't always think things through, though I am sure most people who go do know the situation (which is why I don't sympathise with them) they just think they will get jobs and nothing else will matter.   Our own media has been to blame a lot for this with so many comparisons making Australia out to be the lucky country. Unfortunately Australia is not doing so well at present and when the chips are down I think ill feelings tend to be aired more so there appears to be a bit of anti nz sentiment over there towards nz immigrants... glad I live here.  

To Clare

At the time these changes were not well publicised unlike these days and a lot of kiwis got caught out . Australia wanted it bevause it saw NZ immigration laws as lax and therefore a backdoor way of people from other countries gaining entry to Aussie by becoming NZ citizens first. They have since blamed the numbers of Kiwis in Aussie as ongoing justification. The raw numbers sound impressive when in reality 2% of each country is made up of the other and thus the economic impact to both country's is realively equal.

Plus Aussie makes out as if all kiwis over there are on the dole when in fact by their own stats the highest average earners by country of origin are Kiwis.

They will give a kiwi citizenship straight away to a league player so he can play for Austrailia but won't give a policeman of 10 years service residency status thus he can't get citizenship for him or his children because his job isn't on their list. He also won't qualify for benefits if injured on the job. Same with kiwi's in their army.

Yet they have to pay the same taxes that pay for the things they can't use.

Their system in the end just isn't fair.

For those who went over in recent years it's still not fair but I agree they should have done their research first.

Does make sense

They did it Wayne because of the large numbers of NZers who immigrated to Australia.  Australia didn't like so many coming and taking up their jobs, and NZ didn't like so many leaving. They did it to discourage this happening.  

What doesn't make sense to me is all these NZers over there complaining and saying they didn't know.   How can you not know?  Surely it's the first thing you do when looking  at immigrating somewhere - sure you look at getting work and then you look at what rights you have in that country and how life is going to be over there.   Then you weigh up the pros and cons before packing your bag.

The only unfair thing about it all is that NZ still provides all these benefits to Australians living here.  So to quote an example I noticed last year, we get Aussie snowboarders coming over for the ski season,  they get seasonal work and then have an injury on the skifield and claim ACC for the rest of the season until they go home.   Thank you NZ for being so kind and caring. 


Doesn't make sense

Why would a joint agreement between Australia's Liberal government and Helen Clark's Labour government in 2001 be made to deny access to benefits of permanent residency such as disability care, welfare and social housing to tax-paying New Zealanders permanently living and working in Australia? It just doesn't make sense. Mind you though, I suppose there are a lot of strange things that don't make sense with Labour both past and present!

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