Advocating for a new citizenship pathway
06 September 2022
It has been a busy time for Oz Kiwi. On 08 July 2022 a review into the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia was announced by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese after a bilateral leadership meeting in Sydney with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern. Both leaders were clear that this will lead to positive reforms for Kiwis in Australia. An announcement of the outcome is expected on ANZAC Day 2023.
There are other issues aside from a fairer, affordable pathway to Australian citizenship for the review to consider. Providing access to NDIS is fundamental as New Zealander's are eligible for Medicare and help fund NDIS via the Medicare levy surcharge.
Oz Kiwi was unable to go to Canberra in August as planned due to Covid-19. However, we have had some very constructive virtual meetings instead.
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers
In early August Oz Kiwi representatives met with Australian Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers. His electorate of Rankin QLD has one of the highest Kiwi populations and he understands the negative impact of the 2001 changes. Treasurer Chalmers has been instrumental on this issue, and is working with his Cabinet colleagues to implement reforms that will provide a fair pathway to citizenship for all New Zealanders living in Australia.
NZ High Commissioner to Australia
Oz Kiwi has also met with the New Zealand High Commissioner Dame Annette King to consult on the Australian Government's review. The High Commission advocates strongly at diplomatic and senior government levels to push for reforms and make improvements for New Zealanders living in Australia. They are Oz Kiwis strongest ally in this regard.
Department of Home Affairs
Last week we met with senior representatives from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to discuss key issues to consider as part of any reforms. While there is no public submission process DHA has consulted with Australian and New Zealand government agencies for the review.
These are all constructive and helpful conversations to have. We are determined to ensure any changes made will not have unintended consequences.
Any changes will take time to finalise and implement, computer systems will need updating, and staff will need additional training. There is also a visa processing backlog of 900,000 applications and the financial impact of the reforms to consider.
In the last 10 years Australia's annual Permanent Resident migrant intake has been between 140,000 and 190,000. Oz Kiwi estimates there would be at least 180,000 and 230,000 New Zealanders eligible for permanent residency if there was a fair and affordable pathway available to non-protected Special Category Visa-holders. It would therefore be reasonable to expect a phased rollout of eligibility for any new pathway to citizenship.
Note: More recent arrivals might have to wait several years before being eligible to apply for Permanent Residency. Please bear in mind that many Kiwis have already been waiting 10 plus years. Any time spent as a non-protected Special Category Visa-holder counts towards the four years residency required before you can apply for citizenship.
Oz Kiwi is pleased with the progress of the review. There will be further meetings in the coming months, and while we cannot publicly divulge those discussions, these are the most positive steps Oz Kiwi has seen in a decade of working in this space.
The Australian Labor Party and Australian Greens have long supported a fair pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders living in Australia.