Sunday, April 23, 2023

Francesca Rudkin: For some, these changes will be the tipping point that sends Kiwis to Australia

So, there’s been big news over the weekend as New Zealanders living in Australia are now afforded similar rights to Australians who live in New Zealand when it comes to having a pathway to citizenship.

Since 2001, New Zealanders have been able to live and work in Australia indefinitely on a Special Category Visa, but getting permanent residency and citizenship has been a long, difficult and expensive processes. Some changes were made in 2016, but these still didn’t make getting citizenship, and the rights it gives, any easier.

Practically, it has meant New Zealanders in Australia have been unable to access benefits such as student loans or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (our ACC), join the Defence Force, or vote.

So the announcement is huge, and will be welcomed by Kiwis already living in Australia, and those planning on moving there. I’m thrilled in particular for those who made Australia their home decades ago and understandably think of themselves as Australians – now they really can be.

The changes mean that from the 1st July New Zealanders who have lived in Aussie for 4 years on temporary and special category visas, and meet the standard Australian citizenship criteria, can apply for citizenship.

Those who have been living in Australia since 2001 will be able to apply directly for citizenship without gaining permanent residency first. Kiwi children born in Australia will become citizens at birth (rather than waiting till they turn 10).

The fee to become a citizen is now Aus $490.00 and there is no minimum income or health requirement. Once citizens, Kiwis will get access to all services and benefits.

Of course there is some fear this announcement makes Australia look an even more attractive option for Kiwis’, especially given the current gloomy feel about New Zealand.

And it does.

But whether we see the exodus, the brain drain of 2011 – 2012 is yet to be seen. While both the New Zealand and Australian Labour governments celebrate this move, the pressure is now on our Government to convince people New Zealand is a great place to live and work. Not just to keep talented kiwis at home, or encourage them to return - but to attract the many skilled workers we currently need, at a time when the rest of the world is in pursuit of those same workers.

As much as this announcement makes a move to Aussie an appealing option for Kiwis, it’s likely those who will benefit have already been thinking about making a move. They’re less likely to be weighing up access to social services if something goes wrong than thinking about getting a better paid job, buying a more affordable house, and enjoying more sunshine.

So the changes this weekend are unlikely to be a big driver for people moving to Australia, they are however one less reason to stay in NZ. For some it will be the tipping point that sends them on their way.

Right now, it’s easy to see the attraction.

Francesca is a well known film reviewer, writes for NZ Herald's Timeout magazine, and contributes to Jack Tame's Newstalk show. This article was first published HERE

1 comment:

Robert Arthur said...

I used to find the hic accent a great deterrent, but now find it preferable to te reo pervading all.