Australian Citizenship Quest

By Editorial 03 July, 2013

Obstacles faced by a New Zealand-born actor to achieving Australian citizenship have highlighted the situation of thousands of expat New Zealanders in a similar situation.

Speaking in a media interview with News Limited to promote his latest film, the actor Russell Crowe explained that he is treated the same way as New Zealanders arriving after February 26, 2001 (the day Australia changed its citizenship laws) because he was not in the country on that day and for more than 12 months out of the preceding two years. As a result, he had to abandon plans to become a citizen in a ceremony in 2006.

Crowe, who arrived in Australia as a child in 1968, explained his situation as falling "between the cracks," but he also referred to "a whole bunch of New Zealanders" in the same situation, who he said had made their lives in Australia and been "productive, taxpaying members of society."

Bi-lateral travel arrangements allow the free flow of people between the two countries, but since 1994 New Zealand citizens have had to hold a temporary but indefinite Special Category visa (SCV) in order to enter Australia. Further changes introduced in 2001 mean that New Zealand citizens arriving in Australia after February 26, 2001 have to become permanent residents if they want to obtain Australian citizenship or to access pension, disability support, or carer payment in Australia.

However, the Australian Government warns that: "All Australian permanent visas have legislated eligibility requirements that must be met. 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."

Crowe's statement has drawn attention to a campaign group called Oz Kiwi. According to the group: "It is now an extremely restricted and expensive process to apply for a permanent visa as a step towards citizenship. Most of the approximately 300,000 New Zealand citizens that have moved to Australia since March 2001 do not even qualify to apply for this visa, let alone citizenship."

The group highlights numerous limitations placed on New Zealanders covered by the 2001 legislation. These include ineligibility for student loans or allowances, for employment in federal government and in some state government jobs, and in  some states lack of access to public or crisis housing.

Tags: Individuals | Expatriates | Investment | Australia | New Zealand | Employment | Expats | Immigration | Pensions | Visas And Passports | Working Abroad | Work | Working Abroad | Immigration | Pensions | Working Abroad |


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