Back row, from left: Tim Gassin, Clare O’Neil, Richard Marles, Gary Gray, Melinda Loe, Joanne Cox, Liza Cox
Front row: Michelle Rowland, Phil Goff, Andrew Little, Jim Chalmers, Natasha Maynard
26 November 2015 – Sam Sachdeva for stuff.co.nz
Labour leader Andrew Little talks about his meetings with Australian MPs to discuss the rights of expat Kiwis, and whether they support an easier path to citizenship.
Australia’s Labor Party has backed up its Kiwi counterparts’ concerns about the treatment of New Zealanders living across the ditch, and could make changes if they come into power.
That’s the message given to Labour leader Andrew Little in Canberra on Wednesday.
Little spoke to MPs and two parliamentary committees about the treatment of Kiwis who had lived in Australia for long periods of time but could not access some government services.
Labour MPs Phil Goff and Andrew Little met with Australian counterparts in Canberra.
In 2001, the Australian government removed New Zealanders’ rights to permanent residency, instead granting them special visas which made it more difficult to gain citizenship and denied them access to a range of benefits they could previously apply for.
While Little struggled to make headway with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and government MPs, he said conversations with Australian Labor MPs – including leader Bill Shorten and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek – had been more fruitful.
“Certainly, I detected amongst Labor MPs, including the leader, a real willingness to reconsider the issues and to address the clearly unfair aspects of the situation that New Zealanders in Australia are facing.”
While some Labor MPs had a “more conservative view”, many had concerns about the 2001 changes, and Little believed Labor would take action if it gained power at the next election.
“Based on the exchanges we’ve had today, I expect they would deal seriously with some of the issues that we’ve raised.”
A number of Australian Labor MPs were quick to back up Little’s comments on the unfairness of the current situation.
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