John Key with Julia Gillard in Queenstown this afternoon. (Photo: Audrey Young)
08 February 2013
Audrey Young, Political editor, NZ Herald
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made it clear she has no appetite to change the entitlements of New Zealanders in Australia.
Speaking after her arrival in Queenstown tonight), Ms Gillard said Australia’s special relationship with New Zealand was already reflected in the special visa category which has been given to New Zealanders entering Australia since 2001.
It allows them to work without restrictions, as has long been the case, but it prevents them getting entitlements that permanent residents and citizens automatically get – such as social welfare benefits, access to student loans, emergency housing or future participation in the national disability insurance scheme.
Speaking to reporters ahead of her talks with Prime Minister John Key tomorrow, Ms Gillard said the ability to work freely and without restriction was a benefit no other country received.
“Because of our special relationship we have arrangements for New Zealanders that have a generosity associate with them that is not given to any other nationals from any other country when they come to Australia.”
New Zealanders also had access to some benefits including access to Medicare, the baby bonus and the family tax benefit.
“It is a relationship we don’t accord to any other nationals from any other part of the world.”
Of the 500,000 Kiwis living in Australia, about 100,000 of the most recent arrivals have lesser rights than the others.
Ms Gillard and Mr Key confirmed that the issue of asylum seekers would be on the agenda for tomorrow’s talks.
“I see the issue as an Australasian issue and a regional issue,” Mr Key said.
[Read the NZ Herald article].