Stuff article – 12 September 2016
“It’s bizarre Kiwis in Australia need a second visa that does exactly the same thing as their existing visa, except for allow access the services they already pay for.”
On February 26, 2001 the status of New Zealanders arriving in Australia changed suddenly. We went from being pretty much permanent residents to a new special type of guest worker with a few rights that were then slowly taken away over the years.
Let’s look at whether this arrangement is truly a good thing for New Zealand, or Australia.
The social outcomes of current policies affect a small, but growing, number of New Zealand-born Australian residents. The effects are harsh and severe when things go wrong and some of the most disturbing ones affect Australian citizens too.
For example, Kiwi women and men living in Australia, and their Australian children, are not eligible for any Centrelink (the equivalent of NZ’s Work and Income) support.
In domestic violence situations Kiwis and their children are usually denied help at shelters as they’re not eligibile for welfare that pays for their stay. They are then often blocked from returning to New Zealand where their care would be paid for because the other parent won’t give permission.
These people are stuck in a country with nowhere to turn and left to make an impossible choice. It’s sometimes suggested they relinquish their child into state care and leave the country because tearing up families is better and cheaper than Centrelink simply paying someone A$260 a week for a little while.
New Zealand-born children who are separated from their family through abuse, abandonment or death in their teenage years can’t get a youth allowance unless they have been living in Australia continuously for at least 10 years.
And children born in Australia to two New Zealand parents who are disabled or develop a disability when they are young are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme because they aren’t considered “residents” of Australia under the act passed in 2013.
Their parents, if they are working, pay the increased Medicare levy used to help fund the scheme, but neither they or their children are eligible unless their child remains in Australia until the age of 10 and is given automatic citizenship that way.
These policies create some discord and hatred towards either Australia itself, its politicians, laws and institutions or Australians themselves however misdirected.
New Zealand and Australia are one single economic market. We have an open border, a shared labour market, and similar cultures.
I find it bizarre New Zealand citizens are expected to apply for a second visa that does exactly the same thing as the visa we already have, except for allow us to access the government services we already pay for.
There is no reason why a New Zealander would need a “permanent” visa as the one already issued gives us the right to reside indefinitely in Australia as long as we don’t renounce our New Zealand citizenship or are convicted of a serious crime. In my opinion forcing us to “immigrate” to Australia after we have already been living and paying taxes there for five, 10 or 15 years is absurd.
New Zealand has been trying to push for change since 2001 and hasn’t been able to convince any policymakers to reverse anything. Rather, it’s worsened, except for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s recent deal that only helps a small number who earn over A$54,000 a year and arrived between February 2001 and February 2016.
Currently Australian citizens and permanent residents of Australia can access whatever they want in New Zealand, except for student loans which they are eligible for after three years. In 2015 the number of Australians who moved to New Zealand outnumbered Kiwis who moved to Australia for the first time.
I wonder if ever the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement will be revoked, and not by Australia. Labour MP David Shearer recently said that Australia had lost its “moral compass” over the detention of asylum seekers, so is the usual political niceness between the two countries starting to fade?
New Zealand invests around $100,000 to educate a Kiwi. If they move to Australia and pay taxes to a foreign government, but are then supported by New Zealand taxpayers if they eventually return and need financial assistance, then we are losing out.
Our hard work goes to support people who did not support us and who should be being supported by the tax system they were paying into. I wonder if the right to work in Australia outweighs all of the costs I’ve mentioned above, and if it does not, what we should do about it?
The current arrangement is definitely in Australia’s favour and it will be interesting to see how long New Zealand puts up with it.
[Read the original Stuff article].