English: Still uncertainty about Australia’s treatment of Kiwis

There is still uncertainty about Australia’s direction in terms of its treatment of Kiwi expats, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Oz Kiw Opinion

While it is obvious that Australia’s budgetary position has in part prompted the latest attacks on the rights of Kiwis in Australia, we wish the New Zealand Government would stop providing Australia with excuses for these actions.

In the context of a healthy single market, any cuts to entitlements should be targeted equally at the citizens of both countries. The same rules should apply regardless of country of origin or citizenship.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no economic or fiscal circumstances in which Australia does not feel justified in targeting Kiwis.

When the economy is booming and Kiwis are flocking to Australia to fill skills shortages, the Australian Government says it must cut entitlements because the number of Kiwis is so large and could be an unreasonable burden (ignoring, of course, that these people bring skills and assets and pay taxes!)

When the economy is stagnant and there is a net flow of migrants back to New Zealand, the Australian Government says it must cut entitlements because it needs to balance its budget.

Australia’s actions both in the last few weeks and over the course of the last 16 years undermine the basic principles on which the trans-Tasman Single Market is supposed to be based. New Zealand should call it out for this and demand the relationship be put back on a more equal footing.

English: Still uncertainty about Australia’s treatment of Kiwis

Nicholas Jones – NZ Herald

Speaking after new Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee’s meeting with counterpart Julie Bishop in Sydney last week, English told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that despite recent assurances from Canberra there was still uncertainty in the relationship.

“In the last couple weeks we have got Prime Minister Turnbull to confirm the original citizenship deal, when Australia is changing it for everybody else. So that was good. And now we have the assurance from Julie Bishop that they will consult us about any changes they are going to make,” English said.

“But there is still uncertainty about the direction they are headed in. And we would still like to have less of that.”

English said the changes stemmed from the fact Australia was in a more challenging fiscal position than New Zealand.

“I think it is just dealing with big pressures. They have got fiscal deficits – they are quite a long way from getting back to surplus. We have got surpluses so we don’t have to have discussions about cutting anyone’s entitlements. They do. And it is fairly challenging politics there most of the time.”

Brownlee on Friday was assured by the Australian Government that it will pay more attention to New Zealanders when it makes major policy changes in future.

He was also given a reassurance from Bishop that there are no further changes in the pipeline for Kiwi expatriates. Fears that Kiwis could soon be made to pay for public schools in Australia were dismissed as “speculation” by Bishop.

Brownlee was, however, unable to persuade the Australian Government to review its decision to hike New Zealand citizens’ university fees. Although expats will be given access to student loans for the first time, many say the higher fees will make university study in the country unaffordable.

Following his meeting Dr Timothy Gassin, chairman of lobby group Oz Kiwi, said Brownlee had “folded”.

“If New Zealand lets Australia get away with this without even the slightest consequence, that sends a clear message to Canberra and the Australian states that they can continue to target New Zealand citizens’ rights with impunity.”

Beginning in January, Australian permanent residents from all countries and New Zealand citizens will pay full fees – an average increase of A$8,000 to A$9,000 a year. About 6,000 New Zealanders are in this category.

[Read the NZ Herald article].

Comments are closed.