NZ citizens suing ANZ for racial discrimination

Oz Kiwi comment

A New Zealand couple, Charles and Judith Cairns, are pursuing a racial discrimination case against the ANZ bank after they were allegedly denied life insurance cover due to their nationality. The NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal has determined that the Cairns can take the matter to court in New South Wales.

The couple have lived in Australia for 10 years and took out a life insurance policy through the ANZ on the basis they were ‘permanent residents’. They were subsequently denied insurance cover because they are not permanent residents.

New Zealand citizens in Australia are granted a Special Category Visa (SCV), defined as a temporary visa under the Migration Act, that allows them to live in Australia indefinitely.

Mr and Mrs Cairns submit that the decision by the ANZ to deny them insurance because they are New Zealand citizens, ie SCV holders, is racial discrimination under the Racial Discrimination Act. Under the Act, racial discrimination includes nationality.

Australia has both Federal and State/Territory jurisdictions, so a wining a NSW court case on the question of racial discrimination won’t resolve all the issues currently faced by SCV holders.  However, should the NSW court make a determination in favour of Mr and Mrs Cairns it may:

  • force other insurance providers to change their polices in relation to SCV holders, and amend their product disclosure statement, otherwise they could potentially face a similar claim
  • potentially force government departments, at least in NSW, with discriminatory policies against SCV holders, such as the travel concession issue, to change their policies, otherwise they could potentially face a similar claim
  • shed more light on the issues faced by SCV holders in Australia, especially non-protected SCV holders
  • further highlight that the erosion of rights for SCV holders in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement is not sustainableWe will keep you up to date with the progress of the matter.

We will keep you up-to-date with the progress of the case.


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