Michael McKenna, Queensland political editor From: The Australian June 20, 2011 12:00AM
NEW Zealand is increasing pressure on the federal government to pay welfare benefits to its citizens living in Australia, with Prime Minister John Key putting the issue on the agenda for talks with Julia Gillard in Canberra today.
A series of anti-discrimination lawsuits have recently overturned decisions to deny New Zealand citizens social security benefits under 2001 Howard government laws that restricted access to permanent residents.
New Zealanders do not meet the definition of permanent residents because they do not need a visa to live in Australia under the free movement treaty between the two countries.
The Queensland government is being sued in the latest anti-discrimination case over its refusal to give financial aid to the Campbell family of Toowoomba, who moved to Australia in 2006. The aid would have covered daycare costs for their 19-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
After being ordered by the Anti-Discrimination Commission to enter mediation, the Queensland government last month used commonwealth laws to maintain its stance in refusing the family's application for financial aid.
In a letter obtained by The Australian, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the issue had been raised recently with the Australian government through its diplomats in Canberra. "The New Zealand High Commission in Canberra has also brought these matters to the attention of the relevant federal authorities," Mr McCully said.
A spokeswoman for Mr Key, who arrived in Canberra yesterday, said he hoped to raise the issue with the Prime Minister.
"It is expected Prime Minister Key will discuss areas of mutual concern and interest with Prime Minister Gillard, and one of those topics will possibly be the situation of New Zealand citizens living and working in Australia," she said.
In the Queensland case, Glenda Campbell said she could not understand why her daughter Hannah was not entitled to the benefits. "We arrived here in 2006 and my husband has been working and paying taxes," she said.
"Australians living in New Zealand are entitled to the same benefits we are being denied. This is not the way Anzacs should treat each other."