New Zealanders living in Australia won’t be getting any extra help from the Australian government despite pleas made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
Kiwis in Australia are excluded from claiming social security benefits, Australia’s version of an unemployment benefit, which could put them in a difficult position if they are laid off during the coronavirus crisis.
Jacinda Ardern has asked Australia to relax its rules on New Zealanders claiming social security.
Ardern said she had asked Australian prime minister Scott Morrison to relax the rules, given the severity of the current crisis.
She said she had “specifically sought” from Morrison “a short term exemption just for these exceptional circumstances for New Zealanders to be supported”.
But she said that as of Tuesday, that request had not been acted upon. Peters had also made a request to Australia.
Most New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after February 2001 are excluded from claiming social security and most other benefits, despite paying into the scheme. Other foreigners working in Australia are able to claim the scheme if they are permanent residents.
Australians are not excluded from the comparable scheme in New Zealand.
Ardern said that New Zealanders would be helped by measures the Australian Government had taken to prop up businesses and keep people employed. However those people would be out of luck if their employers were to lay them off.
Ardern said she believed that a short term exemption of Australia’s rules would be useful to ensure compliance with rules to stay at home.
A group of New Zealanders in Australia have started a petition urging Australia’s government services minister Stuart Robert to relax the rules.
The petition had 118,000 signatures at 5pm on Tuesday.
“There are only 650,000 New Zealand citizens who have made Australia their home. We all contribute to the Australian economy and social fabric. Many of us will be okay for a while, but some of us need help right away,” the petition said.
“This outbreak has turned the world upside down and it’s simply not practical for many of us to simply pack up and go back to New Zealand because our homes and families are now here in Australia,” it said.