Australia PM "Happy" With Kiwi Expat Situation

By Editorial 04 October, 2013

Australia's new Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told reporters during a press conference with his New Zealand counterpart that he is "very happy with the situation that exists right now" as regards New Zealander expats in the country.

Abbott made the comment in reply to a journalist who asked whether his government would remove "discrimination" against New Zealand nationals in Australia, particularly given that his wife is from Wainuiomata.

The Prime Minister said that it was "right and proper" that New Zealanders have better access to Australia than citizens from other countries, and he praised them as "have-a-go people" who "work and pay taxes" in Australia from the day they arrive. He added: "I'm happy to keep talking to Prime Minister Key and obviously I'm happy to have questions from New Zealanders on this subject but I'm very happy with the situation that exists right now."

For his part, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said that there were "some issues" that he thought it "would be best if they were addressed," but that he respected Australia's "sovereign right" to make decisions. He noted that the current arrangement had been made by John Howards' administration, and said that "the ball is very firmly in the Australian Government's court."

Campaigners argue that around 300,000 New Zealanders who have moved to Australia since 2001 face significant difficulties in acquiring a permanent residence visa, which is required to access pensions, disability support, or carer payments, and to obtain Australian citizenship. Although there is a free flow of people between the two countries, since 1994 New Zealanders have instead been given a temporary but indefinite Special Category visa (SCV).

The situation received wider media attention earlier this year when the New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe told reporters that he had fallen "between the cracks" due to changes in the law, and that he had been forced to abandon plans to become a citizen during a ceremony in 2006.

The Australian Government warns that: "Not all New Zealand citizens will qualify, or continue to qualify, for an Australian permanent visa. This should be taken into account when making the decision whether to settle permanently in Australia."

Tags: Australia | New Zealand | Expats | Immigration | Visas And Passports | Immigration |


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