Gerry Brownlee, New Zealand’s new Foreign Affairs Minister (Photo: NewsHub)
4 May 2017
Jenna Lynch – News Hub
Gerry Brownlee’s first big assignment as Foreign Minister came on Thursday when he met with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop.
It came amid an outcry over New Zealanders in Australia being stung with higher fees for tertiary education.
Mr Brownlee didn’t get a big result, although he did negotiate more of a “heads up” arrangement for next time.
“We’ve agreed today that officials from both countries will consider both of the countries domestic policies in relation to how it might affect to our citizens living in those countries,” Mr Brownlee says.
He often takes a boisterous approach – but not so on Thursday.
“Sometimes in our two countries we forget that we are separate Governments and we do have responsibilities to our separate populations,” Mr Brownlee said.
Megan Ireland is a Kiwi hoping to gain her Masters degree in Australia in a field that isn’t offered in New Zealand – and she was hoping for more from the Foreign Minister.
“I just wish they’d try a little harder to be honest,” Ms Ireland told Newshub.
“It’s disappointing because I kind of feel like I’m floating in limbo and no one’s got your back really.”
Her employer had agreed to pay for a portion of the degree, but she doubts it will now the cost has more than tripled – from $18,096 to $59,040.
Ms Ireland has this message for the Australian Government:
“I’d like a refund on all my taxes seeing as I’m not eligible for a lot of stuff over here. You know I’m happy to pay for roads and medical care but all that other stuff that we don’t see anything come back of – give us a little tax refund at tax time.”
Ms Bishop’s message back to Kiwis is to take out a loan.
“In terms of our higher education loans programme New Zealanders across the broad will have greater access to what is a very generous higher education loans programme,” she says.
The fee increase is just the latest in a string of Australian Government crackdowns on expat Kiwis – but Julie Bishop is adamant the bond between us is still strong.
“This is one of the closest relationships that could exist between two countries,” she says.
“These issues underscore the fact that there is a special relationship between Australia and New Zealand and that will continue.”
A relationship that’s looking increasingly one-sided.
[Read the NewsHub article].