In its report on migration the Australian Productivity Commission has repeated the call it first made in 2012 for the Australian Government to sort out the issues facing Kiwis in Australia.
The following extract is from the Productivity Commissions’ draft report, Migrant Intake into Australia, released in November 2015.
The Special Category Visa for New Zealand citizens
Under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, New Zealand citizens can generally enter and live indefinitely in Australia. Under this ‘temporary’ visa, New Zealand citizens gain unrestricted access to Australia’s labour markets. They gain immediate access to family payments and health care under Medicare. But they also face limitations on access to social security and student loans unless they qualify for permanent residency under a permanent
visa stream. There is no limit on the number of New Zealand citizens permitted to enter and remain in Australia, and more than 600 000 New Zealand citizens are currently ‘temporary’ residents in Australia.
The evidence suggests that New Zealanders have a high workforce participation rate in Australia. The program appears to be working effectively in facilitating labour mobility across the Tasman and is responsive to the economic cycle.
The Commission examined a suite of issues associated with the movement of people under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement in its joint study with the New Zealand Productivity Commission on Strengthening trans-Tasman economic relations in 2012. That study found that exclusions from certain social services created a small, but growing, group of significantly disadvantaged people with no pathway to a permanent visa, for whom a case could be made for changes to improve their access to welfare support. Consistent with the study, the Australian Government has recently introduced legislation to give New Zealand citizens who have been long-term residents of Australia access to the student loans program from 1 January 2016. In this context, the Australian Government should implement the recommendation of that joint study related to the ongoing exclusion from services by a small group.