Kiwis warned to check Australian insurance policies

Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers in Auckland ahead of meetings

17 October 2015 – Entrehub

News bites from the visit to New Zealand by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

The New Zealand and Australian Prime Ministers have met in Auckland (NZ) this morning amid growing concerns about the rift in trans tasman relations. However, at a scheduled press conference, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pre-empted some concern by indicating that both countries immigration Ministers would be meeting to discuss how the process can be improved as well as providing more resources to Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to fast track claims and appeals. In addition Mr Turnbull announced that the volume of deportations is likely to decline as there did appear to be a back log. Mr Turnbull has also announced that New Zealanders who have been living in Australia from a young age will be eligible, from January 2016, to apply for students loans and fee help as if they were an Australian citizen. Mr Turnbull predicted about 2,600 New Zealanders would qualify. On immigration Mr Turnbull said:

“The policy applies to everybody, it applies to people who have been sentanced to a term of imprisonment of more than 12 months … so it applies across the board. The real issue has been not so much the law itself but in the fact there has been a large number of revocations since the law was introduced ….and also with the time it has taken to process the apllications to set aside the revocation.”

“We in Principle do not think New Zealanders should go to detention centres…” was Prime Minister John Keys response.

The below was updated on the 16th of October 2015:

Updated: EntreHub has been contacted by an Advisor to the Australian Government in relation to New Zealanders eligibility to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme. EntreHub can now confirm that “New Zealand citizens who arrived after 26 February 2001 and are therefore not protected visa holders, are not eligible for the NDIS.” and that “These people will need to apply for permanent residency or citizenship in order to access the NDIS.”

Updated: EntreHub can confirm that “Since 2010 Queensland floods, for natural disaster events in Australia, the Australian Government has provided eligible New Zealand Special Category Visa Holders (subclass 444) with equivalent payments to the Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance.” from a spokesperson of the Attorney Generals Department.

It looks like Malcolm Turnbull’s forthcoming visit to New Zealand is going to be anything but cordial with politicians and community leaders on both sides of the Tasman suggesting that there is an ever increasing rift developing between the two allies. The rift comes amidst concerns for New Zealanders being deported from Australia after being held in immigration detention as well as issues around the inability of many to access human services, tertiary education, Defence Force places and the National Disability Insurance Scheme – even though it is believed the more than 680,000 kiwis living in Australia pay hundreds of millions of dollars in tax every year. The issue has been highlighted after a New Zealand couple took the ANZ bank to a NSW Tribunal claiming they had been discriminated against after discovering their insurance policy would have been voided because they were not permanent residents.

New Zealand Labour Party Leader Andrew Little has told EntreHub that the ANZ Bank could be in breach of the Closer Economic Relations Agreement between Australia and New Zealand after it emerged the bank had refunded $20,000 in insurance policy premiums to a New Zealander living in Australia because the policy would only have paid out had they been a permanent resident. In the case involving the Cairns family they would have been excluded from the policy because they are only recognised as temporary visa holders as a result of law changes enacted by the former Howard Government in 2001.

“The thing with the ANZ insurance policy looks to me like a breach of CER and likewise I think that the way kiwis are treated discriminately if you were to pay into a national disability insurance scheme and then can’t access it… that again looks to me like discrimination. The whole thing about CER were that Australians and New Zealanders being treated similar if not the same so it is time to trigger whatever mechanisms there are in CER.” Andrew Little said and; “I’ll be talking to him (Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull) this weekend I’ve already indicated I’ll be raising the issues of not only kiwis in detention centres but also kiwis who pay their taxes but can get there kids into tertiary institutions without paying full fees. I think all of these things start to look like our big brother across the Tasman is paying lip service to CER without being serious about fulfilling their obligations under the agreement.”

A spokesperson for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has told Entrehub that “The Prime Minister has repeatedly raised the issue of the lack of access for New Zealanders to social assistance in Australia and he will do so again when he meets with Prime Minister Turnbull this weekend. “While Australia has the right to set its own laws, it is Mr Key’s long-held view that the special relationship between New Zealand and Australia should be reflected in the treatment of its citizens.”

In response to the case involving the Cairns the Head of Media Relations for the ANZ Bank has said that “This is a historical issue where our product disclosure statement took a little bit of time to catch up to legislation. We started to transition NZ citizenship into our eligibility criteria from 2007. By 2009, all of our on sale products had been updated. In this particular case we refunded the premiums for the period of time the customer was technically not covered and offered other insurance solutions.”

Timothy Gassin, Chair of Australian based representative group Ozkiwi said: “The denial of insurance to New Zealanders in Australia is not only discriminatory, but does not sit at all comfortably with the existence of a trans-Tasman single market. It is particularly absurd when many of the Australian companies that are enacting these policies have themselves benefited very substantially from trans-Tasman social and economic integration. They’ve taken advantage of the relationship to expand into the New Zealand market, but now pretend the special relationship does not exist, denying New Zealanders in Australia cover on the basis they fail an unclear residence test and ignoring the existence of long-standing trans-Tasman free movement arrangements.”

“The single market cannot function satisfactorily so long as New Zealanders who exercise their free movement rights are put in a precarious position. For too long, the Australian Government policies have placed New Zealanders at a social and economic disadvantage, denying them opportunities and any social safety net. The denial of insurance makes this position considerably worse. It is imperative that prime ministers Key and Turnbull address these issue at their upcoming meeting and provide certainty and security for trans-Tasman migrants.”

Initial article posted on the 14th of October

New Zealanders living in Australia are today being warned to check their insurance policies as news emerges that ANZ bank is refusing to pay out on one couple who are now taking the Bank to the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board. Judith and Charles Cairns had paid the ANZ’s subsidiary OnePath for life insurance shortly after moving to Australia in 2004. They estimate that they have paid more than $20,000 in premiums over the last decade for life insurance with more than $200,000 per person. Because of the way New Zealand citizens are treated under Australia’s immigration laws they may very well reside in Australia but are not technically permanent residents and in this case were granted only temporary visa’s which not only exclude them from receiving the majority of any government assistance – but as it turns out, potentially also any insurance payouts.

After checking there ANZ policies earlier this year a family member noticed that there had been a change in policy wording in 2006 which excluded non-permanent residents – in this case, the Cairns. When the matter was raised with the Bank a lawyer responded that even though they had paid thousands in premiums the fact that they did not meet the residency test under the policy meant they were unlikely to receive any payout. This led the bank to refunding a decade’s worth of premiums earlier this year and offered the couple a new policy – but only after the story broke in the media.

Matthew Tukaki, a New Zealand born business man who has been living in Australia since late 2000 (and owner of this publication) had this to say: “It’s pathetic to think that a bank doesn’t know who its selling to but even worse is the belief that New Zealanders are treated as second class citizens when they pay for a service or product such as this. My message to all Kiwis living in Australia is check the wording of all of your insurance policies especially if you run a small business, own a home or have wage replacement insurance.”

EntreHub contacted the ANZ for comment but have yet to receive a response.

[Read the Entrehub article]

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