Kiwis launch discrimination bid over lack of rights in Oz

EXPATRIATE Kiwi advocates have launched another bid to win support from Australia's human rights watchdogs in their campaign to end official discrimination against New Zealanders.

Advocacy group OzKiwi has lodged complaints with the Race Discrimination, Disability Discrimination and Children's commissioners outlining the measures taken against New Zealanders who arrived since 2001.

Under changes declared unilaterally by the then-Liberal Government, Kiwis are automatically issued with "non-protected" special category visas that give them the right to live and work across the Tasman, but deny them access to almost all employment, welfare, education and social security services and benefits.

Kiwis living in Australia before 2001 have "protected" visas that provide them with permanent resident status.

Recent developments include:

  • The discovery that immigration computers automatically issue all Kiwis with non-protected visas, even if they have permanent residency through a protected visa.  This overrides all previous visas, including protected SCVs.
  • Increasing reports to OzKiwi of Centrelink front-office staff refusing protected New Zealanders access to social security to which they are legally entitled.
  • The exclusion of "unprotected" Kiwis from funding for the care of people with physical or neurological disabilities in New South Wales.

New Zealanders also continue to be excluded from the new national disability insurance scheme, despite being required to pay the levy imposed to fund it.

While a number of Australian bodies have raised concerns over the human rights implications of the 2001 changes - including the joint parliamentary human rights committee and the Productivity Commission - both Labor and Coalition Governments have rejected any changes.

In the new OzKiwi submission chairman David Faulkner lists the key areas of discrimination and says that the over-riding motive of the changes was to deter the arrival of Pacific Islanders.

Calling the motive an "open secret", Mr Faulkner also cites comments made on Channel Nine's A Current Affair by Gary Hardgrave, Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs at the time of the changes.

"The idea of not giving them access to these benefits was to say 'don't come' [to Pacific Islanders]," Mr Hardgrave told the programme. "They still come anyway.

"They get no support, they get absolutely no settlement services support, they don't get any English language training, they don't get any skills on how to be part of our society.

"If you think the trickle of trouble we have got right now is an issue, open the flood gates up by giving everyone the dole, it will be a dam burst."

OzCom's submission concludes: "We ask again for the commission to properly investigate given that the overwhelming evidence now reveals widespread systemic discrimination against New Zealanders, and that the motive for this discrimination is to target Pasifika-born."

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