Letter to NZ & Australian PM - A Fair Go for NZ Citizens Living in Australia
Thursday, 14 April 2011
Please view attached letter sent to Hon Julia Gillard MP - Prime Minister of Australia A Fair Go For NZ Citizens Living in Australia (Copy below). An identical copy was sent to NZ Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key which can be found with other relevant articles/news in the section Fair Go For NZ Citizens in OZ
To The Hon Julia Gillard MP
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Thursday 14th of April 2011
Dear Prime Minister Julia Gillard
I write this letter to you on behalf of the large number of New Zealanders permanently residing in Australia who have raised serious concerns to me of unequal treatment based on their nationality
The Queensland Flood Disaster caused many affected New Zealanders to complain of unequal treatment when they were initially refused the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP). After pleas for help to both governments, the Australian Government granted an "Ex-gratia Assistance Payment" to those New Zealanders who had been previously refused assistance. (Centrelink 2011)
The flood waters had barely begun to recede when Cyclone Yasi tore through northern Queensland. Innocent victims were once again caught up in traumatic and devastating circumstances outside of their control. Yet again, the calls came in from affected New Zealanders being told that they too were ineligible for the AGDRP. The discrimination was now palpable.
A veritable flood of similar concerns of discrimination has since poured in from New Zealanders living across Australia regarding areas such as employment, education & training, student loans, social security, social services, and access to Australian citizenship.
This strong sense of discrimination has emerged as a result of the amendment to the definition of ‘Australian resident' in the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth) made as a result of the Family and Community Services Legislative Amendment (New Zealand Citizens) Act 2001. One need go no further than the title of this amendment to see that it discriminates based on New Zealand nationality.
The Australian Citizenship (Permanent Resident Status - New Zealand Citizens Declaration 2001 ensured that the discrimination was effective by removing our eligibility for Australian citizenship.
The then Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs officially announced the citizenship and social security changes as being for the express purpose of implementing a new social security treaty with New Zealand. The Hansard record shows that members of the Australian Parliament passed the amendments on this basis. However, as you are no doubt aware, there is no such treaty between our two countries that strips such rights only from New Zealanders but leaves the rights of Australians intact.
Similarly, the 1994 changes effected by Regulation 17 (New Zealand citizens and certain children of New Zealand citizens) of the Migration Reform (Transitional Provisions) Regulations saw the removal of official permanent resident status from most New Zealand citizens residing in Australia.
As a result of these changes, many people who live, work, pay taxes, and raise families in Australia are now never able to enjoy equal rights simply because we come from New Zealand. In short, the 1994 and 2001 amendments have made an underclass out of New Zealanders. This sad fact was confirmed by the recent decision in Faulkner vs ACE Insurance  NSWADT 36, where it was found that the insurance company in question had racially discriminated against New Zealand nationals by using the definition of ‘Australian resident' in the Social Security Act as a general eligibility condition for insurance. It was estimated by the Tribunal that up to 47% of resident New Zealanders are now excluded from this definition.
Examples of systemic discrimination based on New Zealand nationality:
Children born in Australia to permanently residing ‘non-protected' New Zealanders (i.e.: those not in Australia on the 26th of February 2001) are not born Australian citizens. Such children will only acquire citizenship on their tenth birthday if they have been ordinarily resident in Australia since birth under the Statelessness Convention.
Non-protected New Zealanders with children born in Australia have no pathway to citizenship. Such parents do not qualify for many social benefits. Their children are disadvantaged as a result.
Non-protected New Zealanders never become eligible for Australian citizenship regardless of their length of residency. Such New Zealanders are now required to first obtain a permanent visa in order to do so, despite already holding the right to permanently reside under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement. Therefore, migration criteria such as health, age, and education are being illegitimately applied as citizenship eligibility criteria. This has resulted in the virtual exclusion of resident unprotected New Zealanders aged over 45 from the possibility of ever obtaining Australian citizenship.
In some cases, people who have lived in Australia for more than 40 years have had their access to citizenship removed simply because they are from New Zealand.
Even Russell Crowe was rejected for Australian citizenship despite being declared an "Aussie Legend". Mr. Crowe was at the BAFTA Awards in London on the 26th of February 2001.
2009: Victorian Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) refuses to offer permanent employment to New Zealanders who are not eligible for citizenship. Complaint of race discrimination was accepted by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. MFB reverses the policy and apologises for race discrimination based on New Zealand nationality.
2010: Fire and Emergency Services of Western Australia advertise same conditions as MFB. Policy immediately reversed upon complaint to the HR manager.
2010: Victoria Police introduces employment policy that excludes ‘non-protected' SCV holders. Lodged complaint of race discrimination with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC). Victoria Police reverse this policy and offers employment to all New Zealanders.
2010: Western Australia Department of Health denies the right to employment as a trainee Nurses Assistant to NZ citizens unless we hold a permanent visa. Complaint of race discrimination accepted by the WA Equal Opportunity Commission. Department of Health reverses decision.
Other employment sectors similarly turn away NZ Citizens simply because of their 'residency status'.
The eldest son of a family who arrived in Australia in Nov 2007 has been in & out of work due to the nature of his work operating an excavator. As a New Zealander he is not eligible for any unemployment benefit despite having resided in Australia for 4 years. After many weeks without work and income of any kind as a direct result of the wet weather, he was taken to Centrelink to register for work and training - only to be told he is not a priority because he is not receiving an unemployment benefit.
2005: Amendments to the Higher Education Funding Act removed eligibility for student loans from non-citizens. Children who are non-protected New Zealanders are ineligible for citizenship and therefore have no possibility of obtaining a student loan. In addition, non-citizens permanently residing in Australia must pay 20% more for higher education than an Australian citizen. As a consequence, many parents are forced to send their children back to New Zealand in order for them to receive higher education despite being long term Australian residents and taxpayers.
2005: Victorian Department of Transport removes eligibility for student concessional travel from all New Zealanders unless we hold a permanent visa. Complaint of race discrimination recently lodged to the Director of Public Transport. Matter pending.
2007: Victoria removes TAFE funding from NZ Citizens. Complaint of race discrimination lodged with VEOHRC. NZ High Commissioner becomes involved. TAFE funding restored to NZ citizens.
2010: Qld Department of Health treat NZ citizens applying for medical internships less favourably than Australian citizens. Complaint of race discrimination accepted by Qld Anti-Discrimination Commission. Qld Department of Health changes policy to treat New Zealanders the same as Australians.
2011: Several high schools on the Gold Coast report that school leavers of New Zealand nationality are the most likely to fall into the gap of low socio economics due to lack of higher education opportunities and financial support.
Social Services & Disabilities:
A mother has 2 children aged 7 years and 3 years to an Australian citizen who has since left the family. The mother does not qualify for social security payments due to her status as a ‘non-protected' New Zealander. Her lack of skills is making it difficult for her to find fulltime employment in order to qualify for subsidised day-care costs. With no family or friends here in Australia she would like to take her children home to NZ, but cannot afford the costs to go through the courts to relocate them. She does not qualify for a permanent visa.
2007: Funding for disability support services removed from non-protected New Zealanders in Queensland. Complaint of race discrimination accepted by the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission against the Queensland Government.
Children born in Australia to non-protected New Zealnders are not born Australian citizens and therefore are not entitled to equal rights to disability services if they are born with a congenital defect, have autism, etc depending on which State they are living in.
Mrs Campbell, whose 19-year-old daughter Hannah needs 24-hour care for severe cerebral palsy, has been turned down for three federal disability support allowances since arriving in Australia in 2006. The Toowoomba resident is preparing to lodge a human rights complaint against the Australian Government with the United Nations. She is also considering a claim of discrimination against the Queensland Government after being turned down for support from the state's Cerebral Palsy League. "I'd like to see everyone who comes to Australia in our situation get treated well. We're ANZACs after all. But this is discriminatory." Her daughter's disability means there is "no point" applying for citizenship or permanent residency in Australia, she said.
Mrs Field said her husband, was turned down for state assistance in Australia after being diagnosed with cancer last year. She lived in Australia from 1985 to 1996, and returned there with her family in 2003. But she was classed as a non-protected visa holder because she was away from the country on February 26, 2001. She is trying to qualify for a permanent visa but is worried her husband's health will harm her case. "I have paid 18 years' taxes to Australia, never been unemployed. Now I'm saving either the $6800 to get an immigration agent to help us to try and get residency or $2535 to attempt to do it myself.
2007: Access to public housing in the states of WA, Victoria and Queensland removed from non-protected New Zealanders.
2009: Certain ACE Insurance policies exclude ‘non-protected' SCV holders from eligibility for cover. Complaint of race discrimination upheld by the Equal Opportunity Division of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
Social Services across many areas are affecting Permanent Residents.
Homelessness of NZ Citizens is increasing with many victims unable to return to NZ due to lack of funds.
These are the kinds of concerns that have been consistently raised by a growing number of NZ citizens via numerous reputable community organisations and parliamentary representatives. The sheer number of such complaints keeps growing.
In stark contrast, Australian citizens permanently residing in New Zealand become eligible to apply for NZ citizenship, tertiary student allowances and student loans, as well as all social security benefits after a reasonable residency period of 2 years. New Zealand's laws prohibit discrimination based on nationality, but Australia's laws do not.
In light of this systemic discrimination based on New Zealand nationality, I ask on behalf of the many New Zealanders expressing their concerns to me for equal treatment to be restored to New Zealanders permanently residing in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangements. Namely, that we are again recognised as residents under the Social Security Act and as permanent residents under the Australian Citizenship and Migration acts.
To this end, we also ask for the establishment of a formal treaty between Australia and New Zealand that enshrines the rights to equality and protection from discrimination to Australians and New Zealanders alike when we are living in each other's countries.
I thank you for your time and appreciate your response.
1 Boronia Court
Ormeau, Gold Coast
A copy of this letter has also been sent to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key with a petition also gathering support throughout Australia and NZ.
The original letter has been signed and posted to the above-mentioned address and emailed.
Australia Bureau of Statistics 2010. Australian Social Trends (Sept 2010), New Zealanders in Australia, cat. no. 4102.0, ABS, Canberra. Retrieved on Sunday 10th of April 2011 from www.abs.gov.au/socialtrends
Australian Government, Centrelink 2011. Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment. Retrieved on Friday 11th of March 2011 from
Australian Government, Centrelink. New Zealand (NZ) citizens claiming payments in Australia. Retrieved on Friday 11th of March 2011 from
Australian Government, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). Social Security Agreement between Australia and New Zealand. Retrieved on Thursday 10th of March 2011 from
Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Chapter 14 - New Zealand Citizens in Australia (Feb 2008). Retrieved on Thursday 10th of April 2011 from
Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Fact Sheet 17 - New Zealanders in Australia (Nov 2010). Retrieved on Thursday 10th of April 2011 from
Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Visas, Immigration and Refugees, Returning Residents. Retrieved on Thursday 10th of April 2011 from
Australasian Legal Information Institute. Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Migration Act 1958(Cth). Retrieved on Sunday 10th of April 2011 from
Australasian Legal Information Institute. Commonwealth Consolidated Acts, Social Security Act 1991 - Sect 7 (2). Retrieved on Sunday 10th of April 2011 from
Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library 2000. Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (New Zealand Citizens) Bill 2001, Bills Digest No. 102 2000-01. Retrieved on Sunday 10th of April 2011 from
Geesche Jacobsen, The Sydney Morning Herald, Mar 10 2011. Insurer discriminated against New Zealanders: tribunal. Retrieved on Thursday 10th of March 2011 from
NZ Government. Work and Income. Individuals. Retrieved on Sunday 10th of April 2011 from
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