A press release from the National Union of Workers
Wednesday 24 February
Coalition conspires to lock New Zealand workers out of public life
The recent joint announcement by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to open pathways to citizenship for New Zealanders living in Australia looks positive at a glance, but a closer look reveals this policy to be discriminatory and unfair.
Since 2001, New Zealanders living in Australia have been denied the rights Australians enjoy in New Zealand under the terms of the Trans Tasman Travel Arrangement. These rights include being able to vote and being able to access services.
Unfortunately, Malcolm Turnbull’s announced changes mean that only the very wealthiest New Zealanders are given rights.
Once again, the conservatives ignore ordinary working people who are paying taxes and contributing to our communities
Under this new arrangement, only New Zealanders who satisfy strict eligibility requirements – such as earning above $54,000 – are able to access a pathway to citizenship, and nobody arriving post – announcement is able to be part of this scheme.
This discriminatory policy is not good enough. New Zealanders in Australia are yet to achieve equal rights with Australians living in New Zealand.
“Low-income workers and their families who pay taxes will be locked out of this scheme and it is fundamentally unfair” said National Union of Workers (NUW) General Branch Secretary Sam Roberts.
“We have New Zealanders living in Australia who could be lawyers, doctors and the high-income earners this policy looks after but are unable to access opportunities in this country due to Coalition policy introduced in 2001 designed to lock predominantly Pacific Islander kids out of university education and citizenship”.
“Our members are being denied opportunities yet again by a conservative government and both Prime Ministers Turnbull and Key have abandoned ordinary New Zealanders in a cynical political sleight of hand”.
The NUW has been holding community meetings and campaigning to secure a pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders in Australia. The NUW campaign has seen Australian Labor Party policy change to address the inequity faced by New Zealand citizens in Australia and will continue until all New Zealanders receive justice.