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New Zealand’s ‘Bondi Bludger’ and other Australian myths

Historically, geographically, culturally – there are many points of comparison between Australia and its neighbour to the east, New Zealand. But there are notable differences. This week, The Conversation…

The myth of the ‘Bondi Bludger’ has New Zealanders sponging off the Australian taxpayer. Jenny Evans/AAPImage

Historically, geographically, culturally – there are many points of comparison between Australia and its neighbour to the east, New Zealand. But there are notable differences.

This week, The Conversation, in conjunction with Griffith REVIEW, will publish essays examining issues of marginality and modernity. We’ll run articles on the arts, the environment; on the economic and emotional ties that bind people to land, and land to the rest of humanity. We’ll take a fresh look at the 21st-century world that exists just beyond the ditch.


In the quiet week between Christmas and New Year, sometimes even New Zealanders are newsworthy. Generally the significant Kiwi population in Australia goes unnoticed and unremarked. On Saturday December 28, however, mastheads from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia stable suddenly discovered the pressing threat posed to Australia by people crossing the Tasman.

The headlines varied from paper to paper. The NT News was concerned about welfare rip-offs: “Kiwi layabouts are flooding in” it screamed. The Australian focused more on the integrity of our borders. It warned of an “Immigration back door”. Beneath the arguably more sober title “New Zealand migration to Australia soars 40%”, Newscorp’s online version of the story was slugged “Jobless Kiwis are flocking to Australia in search of work - and demanding the dole”.

Tabloid treatment of the issue in the papers inevitably resurfaced on tabloid TV.

On January 13, Nine’s A Current Affair picked up the story. “They’re coming to Australia for our jobs” ran the teaser. “Now they’re fighting en masse to rewrite our welfare rules. Should you pay so they can stay?”

To be fair, in the body of the stories both the newspapers and the TV show raised concerns about the difficulties faced by many New Zealanders who are long-term residents of Australia but who are denied access to a range of entitlements because they arrived after 2001. It is an issue that advocacy groups like OzKiwi and Kiwis in Oz struggle valiantly (and usually vainly) to get Australian journalists interested in. Tales of Kiwis struggling in difficult circumstances in Australia are a staple in the diet of New Zealand’s news media, but rarely get much attention here.

Although chopped up in different ways by different outlets, the guts of the message in all stories run by News Corp and the Nine Network was essentially this: New Zealanders are arriving in record numbers, taking jobs and seeking welfare benefits to boot. What is more, a significant proportion of them were not born in New Zealand, but originally hail from Pacific Island nations and countries in Asia. (This is the “backdoor” referred to by The Australian’s headline as a coded way of raising concerns about race.)

Kiwi-bashing is not without precedent in Australia, although there seems to be persistent confusion about the exact nature of the threat. It is unclear whether the core problem is that New Zealanders work too hard, and so threaten to “steal Aussie jobs”, or whether they are too lazy, and so threaten to sponge off the generous and unwitting Australian taxpayer.

From the mid 1980s until the early 1990s, for example, there was a strong current of concern that New Zealanders were displacing locals in the labour market. The wool industry came in for particular scrutiny, with the Australian Workers Union claiming in 1992 that more than 40% of the Australian clip was being shorn by New Zealanders, while half of all Australian shearers were out of a job. “How are we supposed to find work when our government encourages outsiders to come and take it from us?” complained the union in a press release.

That same year, Labor backbencher Clyde Holding (who had briefly been immigration minister) circulated a paper in federal caucus which argued that New Zealanders were “over-represented” in the Australian workforce and holding down “close to 190,000 jobs … which in almost all instances can be performed by Australians”. Holding wanted the government to “crack down” so that New Zealanders would “go back to work in New Zealand” and leave “jobs in Australia for Australians”. Holding viewed free movement between Australia and New Zealand – formalised in the 1973 Trans Tasman Travel Agreement – as “an anachronistic hangover” from the days of Empire. He lobbied for New Zealanders to be subject to the same restrictions as all other migrants seeking to work in Australia.

Yet at the same time as they were forcing Australians onto dole queues by stealing jobs, New Zealanders were also, evidently, not working hard enough, but instead making wanton use of Australia’s welfare system.

In 1986, Liberal MP and future foreign minister Alexander Downer used his position on an opposition waste watch committee to claim that pregnant single New Zealand women were coming to Australia to give birth to their children so that they could get access to the supporting parents benefit. He alleged that they would then return to New Zealand to live on the proceeds, at a cost to the Australian taxpayer of about A$6 million per annum. Downer’s claim was a preposterous beat up. Payments by the Australian government to single parents in New Zealand totalled less than a sixth of the figure he quoted and most of that money went to mothers who had returned home to New Zealand after the breakdown of an Australian relationship. As then-social security Minister, Brian Howe, pointed out, Downer’s claims defied logic, because at the time, New Zealand offered single mothers more generous benefits than those available in Australia.

In 1988, Brisbane’s Sunday Sun reported on a Liberal Party survey that found that hostility towards Kiwi dole bludgers “romped in” as the issue of greatest concern to Queensland voters. In an aside in parliament, Labor Finance Minister Senator Peter Walsh accused New Zealand of exporting its unemployment problem to Australia. In a live interview from Bondi Beach broadcast on breakfast television, comedian Vince Sorenti joked, “to all you New Zealanders, there are only 27 shoplifting days left to Christmas”.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott recently described New Zealanders as “family” - yet we withhold from them important entitlements. AAP

Such a climate leaves little room for reasoned debate or factual analysis, though the immigration minister at the time, Robert Ray, did issue media releases urging his compatriots to “show Kiwis some respect” and pointing out that far from being a collective burden on the taxpayer, New Zealanders in Australia were generally “young, mobile and working”. In Archives New Zealand in Wellington, I came across a 1989 file note in which the New Zealand High Commission guestimated that for every $1 in unemployment benefits paid to New Zealand citizens, the Australian government received more than $10 in tax revenues from New Zealanders who were working.

The persistent stereotype of the Bondi Bludger was one of the reasons why the Hawke government in 1986 imposed a six month waiting period before newly arrived New Zealanders could receive unemployment benefits. In 2000, this withholding time was extended to two years, putting New Zealanders on the same footing as all other permanent migrants entering the country. Then, in 2001, the Howard government amended the definition of “Australian resident” in social security laws in such a way as to specifically exclude New Zealanders.

Ostensibly, nothing in Trans Tasman Travel Agreement itself had changed. New Zealand passport holders were still free to enter the country and were automatically granted a Special Category Visa (introduced in 1994 and also known as subclass 444) on arrival that allowed them to live and work in Australia as long as they chose. The difference was that as New Zealanders on Special Category Visas were no longer treated as “residents” under the Social Security Act, they were denied access to a range of government payments.

Under a reciprocal healthcare agreement they retain access to Medicare. New Zealanders can also qualify for family assistance payments and even first homebuyer grants, but those who moved to Australia after 26 February 2001 are not eligible for unemployment and sickness benefits or youth allowance (at least not until they have lived here for a decade and then only for six months). Nor are they eligible for federal government disaster recovery assistance, as many New Zealanders discovered to their shock during the massive floods that hit Queensland in the summer of 2010-11. The inequity of their treatment was rendered all the more stark by the New Zealand government’s response to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake a few weeks later: Australians resident in that city were offered the same emergency and unemployment benefits as New Zealand citizens. (An outcry on both sides of the Tasman about the lack of support for New Zealanders affected by the floods forced the federal government’s hand – it granted them ex-gratia payments, a practice that has been repeated in subsequent disasters.)

Changes to the social security law had flow-on effects in some states and territories. For example New Zealand parents can find that their children, whether born here or in NZ, are not able to access disability support services. Emergency and public housing may also be denied to them.

The situation was compounded in 2005 by new rules that denied New Zealand students access to the HECS/HELP loans scheme to attend university or TAFE. Post-school study is thus out of reach for the children of New Zealanders in Australia unless their parents can afford up-front fees.

The latest indignity, as far as New Zealanders are concerned, is that they will be required to pay levies for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but will not have access to any of its services. As Kiwi advocate David Faulkner has explained, this is because eligibility under the NDIS is determined by the definition of “Australian resident” used in the Social Security Act (which excludes New Zealanders), while the definition used to determine who has to pay the levy comes from the Health Insurance Act (which includes them). It is hard not to sympathise with the view that this amounts to unfair and discriminatory treatment.

The 2001 changes came after Canberra had attempted to convince Wellington to shoulder a much bigger share of the cost of paying benefits to Kiwis resident in Australia. An existing treaty regulated the reimbursement of pension payments to expatriates on both sides of the Tasman, based on the proportion of time a person had worked in each country, but the New Zealand government felt that it was a step too far to expect it to also pick up the tab for such things as unemployment and sickness benefits. It is, after all, hardly usual for a national government to extend welfare to citizens who have chosen to live, work and pay taxes in another country. New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also believed that the equation still worked out very much in Australia’s favour – it estimated that A$1 billion in social security outlays for New Zealanders was counterbalanced by A$2.5 billion in tax revenues.

Recognising that Australia had a sovereign right to make its own laws, however, New Zealand made no formal objection to Australia changing its social security legislation. Publicly, the changes were presented as the outcome of a bilateral agreement between Canberra and Wellington, a view NZ prime minister Helen Clarke did little to dispel.

There were, however, voices on both sides of the Tasman that warned of trouble ahead. Democrat senator Andrew Bartlett, the only member of the Australian parliament to raise significant concerns about the bill, noted it could leave some New Zealanders worse off than migrants from other countries.

He foresaw, for example, that a woman who left an abusive relationship could find herself stranded. “A woman in that circumstance will not qualify for any income support,” Bartlett warned his fellow Senators, foreshadowing a scenario that has today become a pressing reality for charitable welfare agencies that have to step in to pick up the pieces. Children of New Zealand parents who flee a violent home are equally at risk of being abandoned by the system.

Bartlett pointed out that the bill would “ensure that people who live, work, pay taxes and raise children in Australia will never be entitled to social security income support because they were born in New Zealand, unless they take the previously unnecessary step of obtaining permanent residence”. They would be unlikely to do this, he argued, because apart from the change to social security law “there is no need or purpose for them to do so.”

The Senator could have gone further: it was not just a question of whether or not New Zealanders would have reason to take out permanent residency, but whether they would be able to do so. There are no qualification requirements for New Zealanders to enter the Australian workforce, but if Kiwis aspire to become permanent residents then they must jump through the same skilled migration hoops as entrants from other countries. They are in competition with the large pool of international student graduates and skilled workers on temporary 457 visas that also want to transition to permanency. If New Zealanders do not have a profession that is in short supply, or if they are over the age of 45, then chances are they will never become residents. Whether they have made their lives here – bought houses, established businesses, raised families – is irrelevant. Instead, they are destined to a status that is permanently marginal. Not only will they be denied access to government benefits but they will never be able to vote.

Phil Goff, New Zealand’s foreign minister at the time, could also see trouble ahead when the 2001 changes were implemented. In a speech at the University of Otago he said: “To be honest, I do have my doubts about the fairness of the situation for future taxpaying Kiwi migrants who lack Permanent Residence in Australia”. He went on to say “the equity of this approach is, of course, an issue that falls outside our bilateral Agreement. But it is something Australia may find it has to grapple with further down the track.”

Goff’s warning has proved prophetic. After the 2001 changes the number of New Zealanders living in Australia stabilised for a few years, but then climbed sharply between 2005 and 2012.

The most recent Immigration department statistics show that as of 30 September 2013, there were 648,200 New Zealanders living in Australia on Special Category Visas. According to the best estimates of researchers Kate McMillan and Paul Hamer, close to 200,000 of these Kiwis are subject to the 2001 restrictions – a cohort that is steadily growing.

As the numbers swell, the unfairness that Goff warned about becomes ever more apparent. Federal government bureaucrats realise it is an issue that cannot be ignored forever. We know from documents released under freedom of information laws, that in 2009-10, considerable work was put into a “thought paper” investigating the possibility of creating a “pathway” to permanent residency for New Zealanders, outside the existing options already available under the migration program. Creating a pathway to permanent residency (and so ultimately citizenship) was one of the recommendations put forward in the joint report on the trans-Tasman relationship published by the Australian and New Zealand Productivity Commissions in 2012. There was some expectation that the issue might be put on the table in February 2013 as part of the annual leaders’ meeting between prime ministers Julia Gillard and John Key. So far though, no policy proposals have seen the light of day and there is no indication that is about to change.

In October 2013, after being congratulated on his recent election victory by visiting NZ prime minister John Key, prime minister Tony Abbott described New Zealanders as “family” (echoing sentiments expressed by Gillard after the Christchurch earthquake). But when asked about the restricted entitlements of New Zealanders living long-term in Australia, Abbott said that he was “very happy with the situation as it is right now".

The NZ government offered Australians support after the earthquake. AAP

At the same meeting both prime ministers reaffirmed their commitment to free trans-Tasman travel. So unless there is a substantial turn around in the relative wage rates and levels of economic growth between the two countries, it is likely that New Zealanders will continue to settle in Australia. A growing number will live here with limited rights and entitlements.

The Aussie response may be to shrug the shoulders and say “so what?”. If they don’t like the way things are, New Zealanders can always go home. They have no excuse for not knowing what they were letting themselves in for. They made a free choice and accepted the deal on offer.

But as I have written in Inside Story, migration – even temporary migration – is never a simple transaction. With the passage of time it takes on a different weight and character. The longer a migrant stays, the more the contractual nature of the original labour market arrangement recedes into the background and the more the attachment to, and engagement with, the host country grows.

“We are social beings. We live together in communities, and our society and culture are shaped by our interactions. We establish bonds of connection, interdependence and mutuality. Out of those bonds grows an ethic of reciprocity and obligation. That ethic will eventually make its presence felt, no matter how hard we seek to ignore it.”

Issues around the rights and entitlements of New Zealanders living in Australia are not about to go away. Nor will they be solved by another bout of Kiwi bashing.

Peter Mares is associate editor of Inside Story magazine and an adjunct fellow at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University. He has a long-standing interest in migration issues.

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93 Comments sorted by

  1. Tony Georgeson

    logged in via email @iinet.net.au

    A very thorough article that deals with the issues as they actually are, stripped of political rhetoric. There are a number of issues of concern, yes the fairness of the treatment is the major one but another is what the current situation says about the dependent relationship NZ has with Australia. NZ has become an economic unit of Australia. The various agreements that increase the levels of economic activity reinforce this process. It should be of great concern to Australia that the 200,000 plus New Zealand citizens living here are effectively excluded from citizenship. Australia needs these people to be fully integrated. And as soon as possible.

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  2. Stephen Jeffery

    logged in via Facebook

    Soon I will have lived here for 13 years. That is 13 out of 15 years of my working life yet the Australian government expects me to turn around and "go home' if things go wrong. When it looked like the Gillard government was about to change the rules in Feb 2013 there was still talk of an 8 year waiting period for permanent residency - and yet they still won't change the rules. Seriously what do they think they have got to lose? Have we all been working here all this time hoping to jump in the queue at Centrelink?

    Is there another example anywhere in the world of a common labour market that treats people like this? After 13 years if I were an illegal immigrant in the US I would be closer to Citizenship than I am here. I find it almost unbelievable that after 13 years there is no distinction between my situation & someone who arrived last week.

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  3. Emma Goodall

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Well written article, I moved to Australia last year, have never claimed benefits anywhere in my life, have skills and experience that are rare and useful, pay tax etc.... I will be attempting to go down the skilled migrant pathway as I want to be able to vote where I pay my taxes. However, it scares me that if I get for example; disabled in a car accident, that there is no safety net just because I hold a NZ passport....

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  4. Georg Antony

    analyst

    A rather long-winded article that touches on the reason for the unfavourable treatment of New Zealanders but does not acknowledge it: the Pacific Islanders.

    Australia runs a selective immigration system that favours migrants with qualifications (now ignoring, eg, the refugee and family-reunion components).

    New Zealand did not have such a requirement, hence Pacific Islanders without qualifications migrated in big numbers. Europe's migration history indicates the social problems that mass migration of people without suitable qualifications can cause. Hence, it is logical to no encourage Pacific Islanders in New Zealand to move to Australia.

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Georg Antony

      And how sad is this analysis - if indeed true! And how sad if this analysis is indeed true! However you say it - what an indictment of a society proudly counted the most ethnically and culturally diverse in the world! Government politicians and bureaucrats need to read some literature, I reckon. Start perhaps with Albert WENDT "Leaves of the Banyan Tree"!

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  5. Courtney Dalionsleepstonite Cregan

    some guy

    Increasingly Australia reminds me of the rich Aunty we all have that gave everyone a street directory year after year for xmas, Who never has anything at their place, but then complains about the quality of the fare at everyone elses' house. Where did this mean spirited Australia come from? Why do we not understand that we may be an island geographically, but that is it and the how goes the rest of the planet goes us? Not to mention the basic notion of good neighbourly relations. I understand the need for immigration controls of some sort, but do we need to be so mean as to deny a woman fleeing a broken home income support, or a taxpaying "foreigner" a pension if they are in a car accident? Nope, you're no good to us now bugger off. No wonder our neighbours hate us! Karma is a bitch Australia...

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  6. Kim Johnstone

    Demographer

    The rules are also problematic for NZers who arrived in Australia pre-2001 but who were living overseas in that year. My mother has been here for 25+ years but was overseas for 18 months when the rules changed - she has worked (and continues to work) the whole time, has owned property, paid taxes but now on retirement she is not eligible for entitlements in Australia, and is not entitled to the universal pension in NZ as she is no longer a resident there. And as the article says, once migrated, there are complex relationships that develop - it's too late to reverse a decision made a quarter of a century ago. But if Australia doesn't want the long term NZ residents to receive benefits then maybe they could refund them the taxes they've paid?

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    1. tomas white

      project manager

      In reply to Kim Johnstone

      I Kim, I think you might find 'Australia's own' Russell Crowe in a very similar situation. Away from home when the rules were changed....

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    2. Mary-Helen Ward

      Education Design Manager

      In reply to Pythinia Preston

      There was no benefit in taking out citizenship before 2001- many people who had been here for a long time were able to vote - and now she won't be able to as she is presumably too old. These changes were not well-publicised at the time, and very few New Zealanders resident in Australia realised their impact - as the article points out very few politicians or bureaucrats realised what the long-term implications would be. I like the idea of refunding the taxes that long-term residents have paid if they're not eligible for benefits when they need them!

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    3. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Mary-Helen Ward

      Hi. There may be a solution for your mother. She may qualify to apply for a Return Resident Visa (cost $345.00) as from what you say she has extensive commitments to Australia and arrived here before 1st September 1994.Then she has Permanent Residence and after 12 months she can apply for citizenship. Form #1085. check our more details on OZKiwi at http://www.ozkiwi2001.org/. If on Facebook check out their Face Book page. Good luck!

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    4. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Kim Johnstone

      Good point, Kim - I hope the bureaucrats are reading - calculating - and that your mother has her cheque in the post by week's end!

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    5. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Pythinia Preston

      Pythinia,

      It was unnecessary - then. If unnecessary then - that should be the starting point in assessing eligibilities. Like those from the UK in Australia when our own Passport/Citizenship/Voting rights were being set.

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    6. Pythinia Preston

      writer

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      I can't understand a word of that - can you elucidate you appear to have repeated yourself.

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  7. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

    Contrarian / Epistemologist

    I think NZ citizens moving to Australia now need to accept the reality of the 'offer'. I doubt that appeals to reason or fairness will have much effect on the Australian government. If you choose to make your home in Australia it's caveat emptor, either sort out residency or ensure your financial arrangements acknowledge your status as non-residents / guest workers: as that is what you are.

    Like ex-pats working in the Gulf etc. You are wanted while you are working. That's the extent of the welcome…

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  8. Mat Hardy

    Lecturer in Middle East Studies at Deakin University

    As a long-suffering Wallabies fan, I propose a tax where NZ could contribute something positive to the Trans-Tasman relationship instead of just take, take, take.

    Under the arrangement, each year, NZ has to provide the Wallabies with five or six top class rugby players who would otherwise have qualified to play with the All Blacks.

    Oh. Wait a minute....

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    1. Merrin Cale

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Oh Mat! I too, am a long suffering Wallabies supporter, and what makes it worse, is until I fell in love with a kiwi I was an All Blacks supporter! I felt I had an obligation to support my country. With the current fair trade agreement with the All Blacks, we may just make it back to the top!! Lol!!

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  9. Mary-Helen Ward

    Education Design Manager

    I arrived in 1998, so was able to become a citizen - which felt like a really big thing at the time. But my son, who arried here in 2008, is caught up in this - he pays taxes but can't look forward to any benefits, ever. Another friend who can't become a citizen, and is married to an Englishman who also can't become a citizen, will not be unable to get any passports for her four children who were born here until they are ten years old. They are effectively stateless. The implications of this are far-reaching and need to be taken seriously by the NZ government, which has proven gutless about this for years.

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    1. Lee Hatfield

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mary-Helen Ward

      people coming from new zealand should have this all explained to them before they leave.. they seem to flock over here as if this is just a province of new zealand, then call us unfair for having any rules! the rules do sound a bit clunky, with probably unexpected outcomes in some cases.like, they could agree to expend as much dole money to n.z.ers as they pay to aussies, then have a ballot of the appl;icants. there would still be a lot of disappointed ones , but at least we'd be fair...

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    2. Lee Hatfield

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Lee Hatfield

      i think the main reason we did this was the fact that a lot of peple who we would have rejected use n.z as a back door....

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    3. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Lee Hatfield

      Lee, yes, I agree with you, all newcomers MUST NOW be advised the truth concerning work in NZ - BUT Lee over the last 13 years the rules affecting existing NZ workers have been changed so that it would have been extremely hard to predict that the current scenario would have eventuated. Also one of the issues is not as you portray. It is not a matter of the dole. No NZ citizen has qualified for the dole since 2001. So anyone who happens to have originated from NZ and who received the dole was entitled to it under the old legislation and is 99.99% certain to be an Australian citizen. The irony of the current position and all the irrelevant comments concerning the 'dole' is that the latest census confirmed that NZ originated people earn 10% more than the average, perhaps because there is no dole and they have got jobs.

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    4. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Mary-Helen Ward

      But how do you reach a compromise with such a selfish, moneteristic nation of intransigent natives who believe so much in themselves that anyone else is there to be taken down?
      As for NZers reciprocating in the same nasty manner as the Oz parliamentarians, they will not - but only because they do not own to such a selfish, controlling nature. Thank God!
      But poetic justice shall win out in the end. NZ is booming with its milk products while the Wonderful Wizards of Oz are selling their dairy industry to the Canadians (so that the Canadians can take the profits) and destroying its manufacturing sectors because they are so taken up with their own pitiful level of intelligence and inability to plan ahead.

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    5. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Lee Hatfield

      A pretty insensitive response, might I say, Lee. This "us" & "them" analysis. Surely we are all in this together - let's see a little generosity and compassion with the thinking!

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    6. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Lee Hatfield

      ' they seem to flock over here as if this is just a province of new zealand'

      Isn't it? It is certainly marked as such in my maps!

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    7. In reply to Jim KABLE

      Comment removed by moderator.

  10. Andy Cameron

    Care giver

    There is no "inequity" here. Quite the contrary. Just like an Indonesian, a Brit, a Canadian, a NZer has to go through the same processes. Given that Australia has BY FAR the largest immigration intake on the planet (along with Canada), the answer is simple- apply for permanent residency right from the get go. If you lack the qualifications, get them. Just like everybody else has to.

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    1. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy, the 'inequity' is simple. Why tax people and progressively change the rules so that they are more and more marginalised and excluded? Surely for their taxes they deserve the same as other 'long term residents'? Andy, if the Australian government wished to stop the flow then they would have done so over the last 13 years and avoided the mess which currently exists, affecting 200,000 plus people.

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    2. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      Tony, you don't understand what 'inequity' means. NZers are foreigners, just like I was when living in the US and UK. If I had decided to stay I would have applied for permanent residency and citizenship. In both countries I had private health insurance and unemployment insurance. That is the deal anywhere for foreigners.

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    3. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Really Jim, what does my knowledge of how immigration issues work around the world have to do with how I raise my kids!?

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    4. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      If you think there is a positive correlation between being an Australian citizens raising their children, and their support for open borders immigration policy, I'd say you need to talk to a few Australian parents.

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    5. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      'Foreigners' - good point Andy. Unfortunately,most NZ's still do not see themselves as foreigners. Why not? historical and cultural but also for practical reasons. Many have been encouraged to come here for work, some by federal and state governments to fill skill shortages. One of the 'selling points' used is - "hey there is no need for you to take out basic health care insurance because like with the UK and elsewhere, Australia has a reciprocal health care arrangement. In Australia it is called medicare and you qualify". Actually the true situation now is that NZ citizens are 'aliens' in Australia, not foreigners. I understand your point re unemployment insurance but I doubt if that is practical and anyway Australian employers would have probably had to carry the cost.

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    6. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      Tony, I have just been speaking to two neighbours - a NZ couple in their late twenties. They told me they became Australian citizens last year. So I don't know where all this "New Zealanders cannot become Australian citizens" claim is coming from.

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    7. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      Not to mention NZ have a privileged "no questions asked" right to enter Australia, and work here as long as they like!

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    8. Michelle Singh

      Tutor in Gender Studies & Sociology at Griffith University

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      In addition, according to the most recent figures (UN, OECD, World Bank), Australia and Canada do not have the highest rates of immigration. They're both in the top 10, certainly, but the US, UK, Russia, France, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Germany have much higher intakes of immigrants. And Australia's intake is on a par with a couple of other countries.

      Not that this really relates to the inequitable situation for NZ people who live in Australia and pay tax without receiving the benefits of said taxpaying.

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    9. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Thanks, I am pleased for your neighbours. Yes some can become citizens. Sadly, your friends are the exception. By far most NZ citizens cannot gain Permanent Residence status. The jobs this large majority fill (sometimes for a decade) are not on the small list of 'in demand' roles. I have worked with some very competent, skilled people and they were unable to gain the necessary points because their occupation was not on the list. Some figures were quoted recently in New Zealand by a researcher who cited only 15,0000 out of the whatever hundreds of thousands number were able to gain PR in the 12 months he was researching. The problem is Andy, that no one has been able to secure funding to do useful research into this cohort of people. It would be very useful to bring clarity to the debate.

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    10. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      With respect, that is irrelevant. Andy, they came because Australia has wanted them to come. And yes, the fact that some have worked here as long as they like, settled into communities, bought homes, got on committees to run sports groups, societies and associations and have become indistinguishable from others in the community means that they are doing exactly what Australia wants them to do. Come, work, pay taxes, buy homes, and make a social contribution. Pity that the pathway to citizenship is nigh impossible for most of them.

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    11. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      "By far most NZ citizens cannot gain Permanent Residence status."
      Several hundred thousand people from all over the world become permanent residents and citizens in Australia every single year. There is NO law singling out New Zealanders as not entitled to the same processes. And sorry, but, yes, both Australia and Canada DO have by far the largest immigration programs, by size of population.

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    12. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      "Pity that the pathway to citizenship is nigh impossible for most of them."
      How can you say this, when hundreds of thousands of people from the Philippines, India, Malaysia, China, South Africa, Ireland become citizens every year.

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    13. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Michelle Singh

      Michelle can you please link to what laws/regulations single out "NZ people" as uniquely "without receiving the benefits of said taxpaying"?

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    14. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy, thanks for the exchange of ideas. Sorry but you have not convinced me. This is my final post on this topic as I think it has been thrashed a great deal. Once again with respect I think you are still missing the point. New Zealand citizens are here gainfully employed etc etc etc and some have been filling roles for 13 years. But they cannot get Permanent Residence because the roles they fill are not on the small list of skills in demand. Therefore it is impossible for them to qualify for PR. There are hundreds of thousands of them.

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    15. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      Ah-hah. In other words you are saying NZers are NOT being discriminated against or victims of "inequity" on the basis they are NZers.

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    16. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      We are speaking about the lack of rights given our NZ siblings, mate. How did YOUR children get into this?

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    17. Tet Yoon Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      If you're referring to 'per capita' figures, you're still wrong. On a per capita basis, NZ's immigration rates are far greater than Australia's of Canada's pretty much however you slice it. (In terms of net migration, NZ may not be so high, but talking about net migration is just ridiculous if you're talking about the size of the immigration programmes because it has to do with the number of people leave as much as the number of people let in.)

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    18. David OKeefe

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Australians living in New Zealand for two years are entitled to every single benefit an NZ citizen is entitled to.

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  11. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    Great Article, it's just the usual xenophobia and irrational jingoism

    Conservatives pointing at "Others" to blame all our problems on, unfortunately it works, really well

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  12. Jim KABLE

    teacher

    I am shocked by the callousness of official Australian government rulings on residents in Australia who have come from New Zealand - our truest sibling nation if ever there were one. It makes a mockery of the 1890s when union of the Australian colonies with New Zealand was a very feasible possibility. And it is a smack in the face to our shared ANZAC "heritage"! Shame Australian politicians - bar Andrew BARTLETT! Bravo mate. By the way - I was born in Australia - but I have visited New Zealand on several occasions - in fact I have kinfolk there (not to be unexpected) - friends, too - and here in Australia - good friends, colleagues, former students - Anglo/other ethnicities and Maori/Pacific Islander backgrounds, too! Grow Up My Country!

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    1. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      "It makes a mockery of the 1890s when union of the Australian colonies with New Zealand was a very feasible possibility."
      No it does not. It does the exact opposite - it reaffirms our decision NOT for such a union.

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    2. Arron Woledge

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      why would you say these things andy?- it reaffirms our decision Not for such a union? the amount of money that the govt makes off kiwis working here is huge, well and truly enough to pay for any benefits, I do not want a hand out, but I do expect some help if i need it, Ive payed taxes, what do I get out of that? at least give me the chance to get citizenship. So what about our history, fought side by side in the trenches etc, would still fight side by side and yet boat people have more chance than we do? read the report above you andy, we get treated very differently to other immigrants that is a fact. boat people have more rights than us, and where not here to bomb the place you ignorant ass

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    3. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Some of us, Andy, have seen the world - lived abroad in it - grown up - don't see "us" and "them - see only "us"!

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    4. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Jim, *I* have seen the world, travelling to, and through dozen of countries, even settling and working in a few. My passports are full of the stamps, and VISAS I have had to apply for, have validated at customs, and COMPLY with. I have a drawer in a filing cabinet full of all the various conditions, and dates, attached to each place I have visited/transited/worked-in. I simply cannot understand all the people here arguing that NZers are exempt from the same obligations of accountability.

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    5. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Lee Hatfield

      I doubt there is anything wrong with them at all, which is why I find these arguments weird.

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    6. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Correction, Andy - it was their decision not to unite in the commonwealth.

      The NZ negotiators held their big end of society vested business self-interests (yeah, whose didn't?) above anything else. They preferred to look after those than the common good of the populations of all the then colonies concerned. They thought they'd be much better off by not joining the proposed federation. They had it in mind, thought it better, more favourable for NZ business, to follow a policy to create a trading empire in the South Pacific islands where they would dictate terms from a position of comparative dominance. Hence tinned NZ mutton still widely remains a Pacific staple... and Kiwis and Pacific Islanders are here in droves, and happy to undercut award conditions here whilst Australian jobs are transferred to NZ due to necessarily cheaper, weaker, labour provisions there. Hence the whinging.

      NZ freely decided to be a separate nation. It's down to them alone.

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    7. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      "it was their decision not to unite in the commonwealth."
      Which just increases the inappropriateness of raising the issue in 2014.

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    8. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      What an unmitigated disaster it would have been for New Zealand if tied itself to Australia.

      Up until the 1960's when Australia, M5t Isa to be precise, began exporting ore, Iron. Copper, gold and lead, IF my memory serves me, Australia was a basket case, the Australian pound being worth 15 shillings Sterling, while NZ was equal to sterling.

      We wimped on trade, clinging to ‘the mother country’, when we ought to have branched out and begun trading with the Japanese long before we did. ---- Not…

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    9. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Not too mention Abbott in Davos recently inviting Abe here soon to address a joint sitting! But then Key doesn't have that option to so assuredly offend China.

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  13. Sarah Worsley

    logged in via Facebook

    Over the past decade I've met a few people who have temporarily immigrated to Australia and then used their newly acquired citizenship to gain them access to NZ. Australia was just a stepping stone and I wonder if there are any stats on that?

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  14. Arron Woledge

    logged in via Facebook

    well it just is not fair, I work and pay taxes, am not a bludger, and yet the asian bloke working beside me can apply for citizenship and I can not? Is that not discrimination? And now we are funding a disability fund which we also can not benefit from either, where does this ill treatment of us kiwis end? our fire fighters even come over to australia to help out and still we get treated worse than asylum seekers! No respect for our history together as anzacs! It is not weather we go home if we dont like it, it is just plain unfair, and discrimination!

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  15. Neil James

    Executive Director, Australia Defence Association

    I was living and working in NZ (on exchange with the NZDF) when the April 2001 changes to Kiwi eligibility for Australian social services were introduced.

    They were extensively publicised and discussed in NZ at the time so claims they were not are simply untrue.

    The statistics have consistently shown that, at least in terms of unemployment benefits, Kiwis are among the most employed of migrant groups in Australia. The Kiwi dole bludger is largely a myth. It may be different for other categories…

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Neil James

      Frontier Wars raged all around Australia - wherever the invaders moved into - there it raged! The last recorded massacres took place in the late 1920s/thereabouts - but cultural genocide was from the latter 19th century - through till now - some might argue - and the so-called Intervention currently in place in the NT is included - till now! By some estimates - massacres (dispersal was the euphemism used through the early/middle/latter 19th century) and disease (small-pox - right from the time of the First Fleet) certainly decimated Indigenous populations around the colonies/nation.

      Otherwise - enjoyed your cultural lesson on differences between the two lands!

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  16. Aran Shivnan

    logged in via Facebook

    I moved to Australia in 2006 with my sons. I gained employment and settled my family here hoping for a better life. I would frequently work 7 days a week as a chef (my professional occupation).

    When the GFC hit Cairns I sadly found myself out of work and the reality was there was no work and I consumed my hard earned savings trying to survive. It was a rude shock that I was not entitled to anything in the way of social security assistance. In a few short months my savings were gone and my son's…

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Aran Shivnan

      Send this - minus the Manus Island distraction - to the NZ High Commission - and get them to make submissions on your behalf!

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    2. Aran Shivnan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      manus island distraction??? lol you mean Australias dirty little secret more like!!!!

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    3. Aran Shivnan

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Lee Hatfield

      if I didn't like aussies then why on earth would I marry one and have Australian children with her?? We don't desire to live in New Zealand because all of her immediate family are here. I would hardly ask her to break those family bonds by living in New Zealand and my family are largely and sadly deceased now. Factor into that that we own a house and a small farm here between us that we would also not want to give up. After many years in a secure government senior position I would never ask that…

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    4. David Theodor Roth

      Postgrad History Student

      In reply to Aran Shivnan

      I'm not saying that it is right or justified, but you'll find taking taxes without giving benefits and rights back to non-citizen workers is almost universal practice across the world. It's not a specially Australian policy. But I think Kiwis should get a better deal because of our close relationship.

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    5. Alison Wong

      Novelist/poet

      In reply to Aran Shivnan

      Aran, you should investigate whether you can apply for Australian PR under the Partner Migration category. If your children were under 18 and dependent on you then they could also have come under the same category, but I suspect that they are now too old. It's very expensive - the fees went up last year. I know you do not plan to go back to NZ but I think there is a reciprocal agreement between Australia & NZ about super - certainly the terms of residency are different from say if you were a NZ expat in Britain - but you would need to check this out for your own circumstances.

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    6. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Aran Shivnan

      Aran,
      Just came across this - thank you for your passionate and very real contribution. I really want to thank you for raising this issue - I had no idea there were such barriers.
      It seems to make sense there should be reciprocity for matters of citizens living in each other's countries. Perhaps it makes sense for the 2 governments 'settle up' at the end of each year on spending on each other's citizens. If that were to happen, people could freely contribute to both economies where it makes the most sense without capital destroying decisions being made on welfare/ education/ medical matters.

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  17. Ai Rui Sheng

    Retired

    New Zealanders make up the second lowest unemployed ethnic group and the second highest average income. They are paying more tax than any other ethnic group and for that they receive no health care, workers compensation, superannuation or disaster relief. Their children receive no education. They are also a more educated group than any other and we bludge off them because we do not pay for their upbringing and education. If the Kiwis went home we would lose a valuable resource and our entertainment, news media, medical and education industries would probably collapse. The Wallabies and Kangaroos would also lose most of their players

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    1. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Ai Rui Sheng

      My NZ neighbours have kids who attend the same public school as my kids, and use the same medical centre.

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  18. Greg Giles

    logged in via Facebook

    National and Labour need to stop giving preferential treatment to Australian companies in to stop the billions of dollars being fleeced from NZ by their banks.
    They should tender out the governments banking.
    Its time to start treating Australia like they treat us, in to stop being their whipping boy.

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  19. Ross Mitchell

    sub-editor

    A very good article about the plight of Kiwis in Australia.
    I'm lucky to have arrived in Australia quite a while ago and took out Oz citizenship in the days when many NZers viewed the very easy process as unnecessary and unpatriotic to the home country.
    I remember Sir Geoffrey Palmer saying New Zealand had all the advantages of being a state without the disadvantages of losing sovereignty.
    How things have changed. I'm watching the increasing plight of Kiwis in Oz with much interest.
    Oz Kiwi are doing a very good job on the internet.
    All I can say is I feel very sorry for my countrymen who land on hard times with uncaring governments on both sides of the Tasman.

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    1. Tony Georgeson

      logged in via email @iinet.net.au

      In reply to Ross Mitchell

      Ross, your comments are reasonable and moderate. The entire set of policies concerning NZ citizens here in Australia are counter productive to the well being of this important international relationship and are producing outcomes for individuals which are at best unfair and at worst discriminatory. If a set of policies such as these are producing such a negative outcome, which could sour relationships for decades, then they have to be changed. My concern is that due to a lack of political will the injustices will continue.

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    2. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Tony Georgeson

      "I remember Sir Geoffrey Palmer saying New Zealand had all the advantages of being a state without the disadvantages of losing sovereignty."

      There's more where that came from. How is that reasonable and moderate?

      Australian States are in fact sovereign. Their people elected to federate and form a commonwealth. NZ chose not to.

      It's simple: NZ citizens can choose for that sovereign State to join the federation, or not. They alone can choose for themselves to apply a federal set of laws rather than dilute by their backdoor "special advantages" those of the Commonwealth of Australia as, say, occurs now in agriculture, industrial relations, trade, and immigration.

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