Possible citizenship pathway?

Malcolm Turnbull and John Key

Recently, we’ve been hearing some suggestions that a ‘solution’ for Kiwis may be around the corner.

While we welcome changes that will improve the current situation, we are very wary of what we have been hearing about a potential pathway to citizenship.

What we’ve heard so far suggests the government is considering rehashing the proposal that emerged under the Gillard government (but was not implemented) – that Kiwis could apply for permanent visas after ten years of residence and by paying a substantial fee.

This time, there also seems to be a suggestion of tightening this up even further by adding further requirements, likely in relation to skills or income.

These proposals are simply not good enough. They put barrier after barrier in the way of Kiwis achieving rights that should flow naturally from free movement and their residence in Australia.

Time barrier

We know problems were emerging well before the tenth anniversary of the 2001 changes – people cannot reasonably plan for ten years and things can and do go wrong. Such problems would now be confirmed as permanent and acceptable. In fact, they could get worse as the SCV may be increasingly seen as a ‘temporary’ visa (as it would now be presented as a stepping stone to a permanent visa rather than something people would live on permanently) and the remaining rights of SCV-holders further whittled away.

Cost barrier

Poor Kiwis (those who most desperately need to get a safety net) will not be able to afford it – if they charged $3,000 per applicant, a family with three children would be facing a bill of $15,000 excluding other possible expenses. Better off Kiwis would likely not apply as well – as is currently the case, they’d see no likelihood of themselves needing welfare support and thus think putting in an application would be a waste of money given they can already live and work in Australia permanently.

Potential skills and income barrier

This would lock out most working-class Kiwis, including most of the Maori and Pasifika communities, even if they could afford to pay the fee.

Put all together, these proposals would absolutely fail to address the problems that inevitably flow from having a permanently resident population with limited rights. If the government goes down this path, it is just kicking the can down the road, leaving it to a future government to fix the mess caused by the 2001 changes.

[Read the Oz Kiwi Facebook post].

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