23 November 2015 – Peter Wilson, Political Writer (The Australian)
New Zealand’s opposition leader Andrew Little is heading to Canberra hoping to convince Australian MPs that Kiwis living across the ditch are getting a raw deal.
The Labour leader will appear before two parliamentary committees, and meet Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
“It’s pretty clear that New Zealanders who live and work there are disadvantaged,” he told NZ Newswire.
“This visit is about opening those things up and gaining the attention of the politicians on the committees.”
Mr Little says New Zealanders have to pay national disability insurance premiums but aren’t entitled to make claims.
“It’s grossly unfair,” he said.
“It’s like our ACC – and even Australians on holiday in New Zealand have full access to that.”
Mr Little says New Zealanders, despite paying taxes, are denied benefits funded through general taxation.
And if they want to become citizens they’re hit with a $5000 non-refundable deposit.
“For a lot of Kiwis, it’s a risk they’re not prepared to take so they don’t apply for citizenship.”
Mr Little says he’s discovered through meetings with Australian MPs in New Zealand that they don’t know much about the situation.
“We thought a more formal presentation to committees that report on issues might be a better way of getting it on the political agenda.”
Prime Minister John Key has raised the lack of reciprocity with successive Australian prime ministers, without getting very far.
There was a minor breakthrough in October when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on his first visit to New Zealand, announced long-term residents would be eligible for student loans.
Mr Key said at the time he would continue to fight for access to other benefits.
Mr Little and senior MP Phil Goff leave on Tuesday.
On Wednesday they’ll appear before the joint standing committee on foreign affairs and then the joint standing committee on migration.
They’ll meet Mr Dutton later the same day.