Push for Australian Immigrant Law Changes
Gold Coast-based New Zealanders are calling for an immigrant law change arguing tough restrictions prevent long-term residents from having the same rights as Australians. The Oz Kiwi movement is gaining momentum among the Gold Coast’s New Zealand community, who are discovering they are left with no protection to access social security payments and education funding under stringent immigration laws that make it harder for them to become Australian citizens or permanent residents.
About 30,000 New Zealanders settle in Australia every year, with a large proportion choosing the Gold Coast as their home. Organisers of the Oz Kiwi online petition say the Australian Government stripped migrating New Zealanders of access to DisabilityCare, Fee-Help, student loans, voting, social security payments and the ability to become an Australian citizen or join the defence force under the tough changes implemented in February 2001.
Helensvale resident, New Zealander Jenny Evans is among a growing group of people pushing for the rights of Australian-based New Zealanders to become a federal election issue. She said New Zealanders living in Australia were now unprotected and without financial assistance if they lost their job or wanted further study. “Thousands of good Kiwis who work and support the Gold Coast and the country with their taxes are getting nothing back … it is discrimination and wrong,” Evans said. Conversely, Australians living in New Zealand are granted the right to vote after just one year of residency, become a permanent resident on arrival and are eligible for social security payments after two years.
The push follows the controversy surrounding New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe, who does not qualify for citizenship despite growing up in Australia.