13 Jun 2015

Push for NZers in Australia to have more rights

12:13 pm on 13 June 2015

A New Zealand advocacy group in Australia will present a petition to the Australian Parliament next week calling for New Zealanders to be given the same rights as other permanent residents residing.

Oz Kiwi aims to put pressure on the Australian government to allow New Zealanders living permanently in Australia to naturalise within a designated time period so they can vote.

Campaigners are training to get more rights for roughly 200,000 New Zealanders living in Australia.

Campaigners are training to get more rights for roughly 200,000 New Zealanders living in Australia. Photo: Supplied

Spokesperson Timothy Gassin said the OZ Kiwi proposal was simple: that New Zealanders who move to Australia, who have been self sufficient and pay tax, should be given the full rights of other Australian residents and be allowed the option of becoming an Australian citizen.

He said the petition had close to 40,000 signatures.

Mr Gassin said Oz Kiwi would meet with senators and parliamentarians from Monday to present their concerns and the petition.

The lobby group campaigns to overturn 2001 changes to social security law and subsequent law changes which have withdrawn New Zealanders' access to a variety of services.

Mr Gassin said New Zealanders currently enter Australia on a Special Category Visa that lets them work and live in Australia indefinitely and buy a house, but the visa did not allow an avenue for citizenship or access to services even though they paid the same taxes as everyone else.

Some of the services New Zealanders are excluded from include access to student loans and a variety of benefits.

"New Zealanders living in Australia can't get the unemployment benefit or any help if they or their partner or children become disabled, even if their spouse is an Australian."

He said the issue of benefits was particularly relevant when it came to New Zealanders trapped in a relationship where they experienced domestic violence.

He said a lot of processes within domestic violence required someone to show that they were in receipt of an Australian Government payment, and New Zealanders are now ineligible for those.

"Women who are fleeing domestic violence often can't get access to women's refuges."

Mr Gassin agreed that people shouldn't be able to just come off the plane and be given every right that an Australian has.

"It's fair the Australian Government puts restrictions in place. People should show some commitment before they have every single right in a new country."

But he said New Zealanders had a greater shared history and agreements with Australia and that was why the laws around New Zealanders should be revisited.

"Where is the New Zealand in ANZAC? Equality and fairness is all we are asking for."