500 words – New Zealanders in Australia

The Australian government’s recent crackdown on the residency of (not just) New Zealanders is gaining rather a lot of attention in the New Zealand media. Apparently, they ‘can’t just keep taking our rights away’.

I’m always amazed at the expectation that New Zealanders have immutable birth rights in Australia. New Zealanders are not actually Australians. So the only reason Australia would want to extend ‘rights’ to kiwis is is they get something in return. For almost all of the nineties and two thousands, what Australia got was an upwardly mobile, constant influx of well educated, mostly healthy adults of working age, who would pay tax but cost the government very little in return. To be clear, there are no shortage of ‘foreigners’ working in Australia who do this too.

New Zealand’s immigration requirements are much more relaxed than Australia’s however – after all, it is the cornerstone of their continued economic growth. As a consequence, New Zealand started being used as a stepping stone to get into Australia. The New Zealand government claims this is not the case, but it is. I could talk more about this but I won’t right now. It’s Occam’s Razor though – one in four kiwis who move to Australia originally came from outside NZ to begin with.

Most recently, this article talks about the introduction of international fees for New Zealanders. Below is a quote from a peevish student, who moved with his entire family to Australia as a teenager. He was considering his degree choices, but the new fees mean he’s now planning to move back to NZ,Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 7.02.55 AM

And that, right there, is why the New Zealand government is dragging its feet to assist New Zealanders in Australia – they want them back. Like the flow of people from the global south to the north, New Zealand is losing its working population. Nominally educated with at least a few of their own teeth, the New Zealand government is looking hard at its own large and unskilled population, as well as the high numbers of non-earners (young and old), and thinking; ‘By Hoki, we could really do with some of the flash ones back!’.

They can’t ‘pull’ them back with higher wages or working conditions, so all they’ve got left is the ‘push’ – Australia making it more and more uncomfortable for New Zealanders to stay in Australia.

The real losers out of this deal are the children, like Laurie, cited above. His parents moved him to Australia but made no attempt to obtain citizenship for Laurie, who would always be, even under the previous arrangements, the child of relatively temporary migrants. There aren’t many kids in this situation – children who are born in Australia to New Zealanders automatically gain citizenship when they turn ten, so really it’s just the kids who’ve moved there at some point during their childhood. It’s got to be pretty hard to move back to NZ when you’ve spent almost all your life in Australia.



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