Information for New Zealanders living in Australia

Kiwis could be granted the right to Aussie citizenship this election

Jim Chalmers is the Labor MP for Rankin (QLD), home to the second-most Kiwis nationwide. (Photo: Newshub)
Jim Chalmers is the Labor MP for Rankin (QLD), home to the second-most Kiwis nationwide. (Photo: Newshub)

15 May 2019

Conor Whitten - Newshub

New Zealanders in Australia will be watching closely as the country goes to the polls this weekend. An estimated 200,000 people could be granted the right to Australian citizenship for the first time.

There's even some hope for the most maligned Kiwis - those set to be deportees. By day, Kiwi student Mat Tibbenham runs a rehab facility, helping addicts off Melbourne's streets But after coming home from fulltime work, Tibbenham's nights provide little relief.

“The workload is incredibly difficult, having to work fulltime and study after hours,” Tibbenham told Newshub.

This is often reality for Kiwi students in Australia. Most who arrived in the last 18 years aren't entitled to a student loan.

Tibberman said: “I feel that I'm a good citizen in Australia and give back to the community, and essentially in the long run I don't get anything back.”

But for Tibbenham, and hundreds of thousands of Kiwis, this weekend's election brings the prospect of change.

“It's really a choice between the Liberal Party, who's shown very little interest in our New Zealand brothers and sisters, versus a Labor party who's said there are inequities in the way New Zealanders are treated in Australia,” said Labor MP Jim Chalmers.

Jim Chalmers is the Labor MP for Rankin, home to the second-most Kiwis, nationwide. His party is the favourite to win on Saturday, and with that could come a new path citizenship for the 200,000 New Zealanders shut out.

“A lot of those issues flow from that inability to become an Australian or become a dual Australian New Zealander,” Chalmers said.

Australia's Green Party wants to go further, giving all New Zealanders permanent residency and ending the practice of deporting Kiwis who've been to prison but served their time.

Greens Senator Nick McKim told Newshub: “We believe people should be, having done their time, given the chance to rebuild their lives in this country, whether they be Australians or New Zealanders.”

Lee Barber, a Kiwi detainee, has spent four years in Australian detention waiting for a Government to say those words.

“We all just want to get out and get on with our lives, work and love our families, as they love us back,” Barber said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Liberal Government has no policies to help New Zealanders, so only the ballot box can provide change.

But as only Australian citizens can vote, it's largely out of New Zealanders' hands.

Read the Newshub article.