New Zealanders draw the short straw living in Australia


 Source: Judit Klein

New Zealand and Australia may share a unique relationship, but New Zealand citizens living in Australia are usually given a raw deal.

Legislation changes to the status of New Zealand citizens migrating to Australia after 2001 left those arriving after the change at a disadvantage.

Melany Lloyd from OZ Kiwi an advocacy group for New Zealand citizens living in Australia explains the struggle that New Zealand citizens face when moving here, “Most of those NZ citizens who have arrived after 26 February 2001, including some who have lived and worked here for 15 years, their Australian-born children don’t acquire Australian citizenship until they turn 10, and if the child has a disability that child cannot get early intervention.  An estimated 150,000 of those who have non-protected SCV status currently have no pathway to citizenship, and are indefinitely temporary.”

Paul Hamer from the Victoria University of Wellington explains the reasons for New Zealand citizens moving to Australia, “The ease of which people can move on both sides of the Tasman from  a closer economic agreement draws New Zealanders to Australia but places them in a vulnerable position. Australia benefits from this agreement from having access to a labour force which has been raised and trained by the expense of the New Zealand government.”

The rate of migration and conditions placed on New Zealand citizens by the Australian government means that individuals such as those seeking to pursue further education, families and those arriving after 2001 are most vulnerable.

David Chan a New Zealand citizen who was raised in Australia since the age of eleven faced such a dilemma. Upon completing high school he learned that he couldn’t attend university in Australia without paying the fees upfront and, due to the classification of the special category visas, was also unable to apply for a grant as an international student.

“It was devastating I didn’t even realise until I tried to apply. I grew up here, started to build a life and was basically told I had to move back to New Zealand where I knew no one just to be able to get the education I wanted.”

There is some good news for New Zealand citizens if Malcolm Turnbull makes good on his announcement in January, that from July 1st in 2017 New Zealand citizens who have lived here for five years and can pass an income test can apply for permanent residency.

The change however may be too late for some who have  lived within Australia for as many as sixteen years after the change in 2001.



Sharn Kennedy

Griffith University - Journalist

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