JOHN Smith's night turned from a quick cuppa at the in-laws after a day's hard work to a cold plunge in Pelican Waters canal to save two people's lives.
Caboolture father and son John and Lucas were heading home to Caboolture when John slammed on the brakes when he saw a car sinking into the canal at Pelican Waters Blvd. Inside the water-logged car was a shocked elderly couple.
"We pulled over and jumped out straight away," Mr Smith said.
"There was already another man in the canal helping so we swam out the 10 metres and jumped on the other side. We helped the woman out of her car window. By the time we pulled her out the water had risen to the window so it was moving quickly.
"The water was deep and really cold, but you could feel the cold more once you were out of the water."
The elderly couple safely reached dry land about 6pm yesterday and the man was taken by ambulance to Caloundra Hospital.
In a stroke of luck, the manpower continued when a construction site manager turned up to use a digger to lift the car out of the canal.
"We didn't think twice about getting in the water...we weren't told about the bull sharks in canals until afterwards," Mr Smith joked.
The heroic action of Tuesday night came after lengthy ongoing frustrations Mr Smith has experienced as a Kiwi-native.
The Smith family moved to Australia from Tauranga in 2001, eight days before the bilateral social security arrangement between Australia and New Zealand was introduced.
New Zealand citizens arriving in Australia on or after February 27, 2001 must apply for and be granted an Australian permanent visa to access certain social security payments not covered by the bilateral agreement, obtain Australian citizenship or sponsor their family members for a permanent visa.
Mr Smith only realised the family was not eligible when he could not work after an arm injury about four years ago and sought Centrelink assistance.
Mr Smith owns the business Big Tick which undertakes pool safety inspections.
"Lucas wanted to do an apprenticeship position but businesses can't get the subsidies for him and for uni the kids pay fees upfront," Mr Smith said.
"They can't help it. We moved here and they were only little when we came here, so it's very frustrating.
"We never ask for a handout, we've always worked and employed Australians in our business.
"It was a real shock when we found out that we couldn't receive the government benefits, but we've learn to live with it."
Police Media did not provide any other information as to how the elderly couple ended up in the canal.
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