Kiwis in Australia face Coronavirus-created unemployment with no govt help

Ben Harvey, Melbourne
Ben Harvey, 34, has worked in retail in Melbourne for the last eight years. Over the past month he has seen his average rostered hours reduced as concerns about the Coronavirus grew. (Photo: Supplied)

20 March 2020

Kate Newton – Radio NZ

New Zealanders in Australia who face months of unemployment or dramatically-reduced working hours because of Covid-19 may get no financial assistance. Of the 634,000 New Zealanders living in Australia, about half are not eligible for welfare payments there, because they arrived after February 2001 and are considered ‘non-protected special category visa-holders’.

An advocacy group for New Zealanders in Australia, Oz Kiwi, said the New Zealand government would probably need to “kick up a stink” to get Australia to temporarily allow those people to claim a benefit, including any special Covid-19 assistance.

The Australian government had indicated it would announce a further stimulus package and she hoped there might be some help for all workers in that. During the global financial crisis the Rudd government had made special payments available to New Zealand non-protected SCV holders as well, Cox said.

However, after the 2010 Queensland floods, then-New Zealand Prime Minister John Key had had to push strongly to get New Zealanders included in relief payments to people whose houses were damaged. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may have to do the same now, she said.

Ardern said yesterday that she had not brought up welfare payments with her Australian counterpart in the context of Covid-19, “but you’ll know that I’ve raised it many, many times generally”.

[Read the full Radio NZ article].

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