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New Zealand Citizens living in Australia are experiencing discrimination in areas such as employment, education, training, student loans, social security, social services, and access to Australian citizenship as a result of the amendments to the Social Security Act.
As a result of these changes, many people who live, work, pay taxes, and raise families in Australia are now never able to enjoy equal rights simply because they come from New Zealand. In short, the 2001 amendments have made an underclass out of New Zealanders. We are asking for a fair go by being recognised as residents under the Social Security Act and as permanent residents under the Australian Citizenship and Migration acts.
We write this letter to you on behalf of the large number of New Zealanders permanently residing in Australia who have raised serious concerns of unequal treatment based on their nationality
The Queensland Flood Disaster caused many affected New Zealanders to complain of unequal treatment when they were initially refused the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP). After pleas for help to both governments, the Australian Government granted an Ex-gratia Assistance Payment to those New Zealanders who had been previously refused assistance.
The flood waters had barely begun to recede when Cyclone Yasi tore through northern Queensland. Innocent victims were once again caught up in traumatic and devastating circumstances outside of their control. Yet again, the calls came in from affected New Zealanders being told that they too were ineligible for the AGDRP. The discrimination was now palpable.
A veritable flood of similar concerns of discrimination has since poured in from New Zealanders living across Australia regarding areas such as employment, education, training, student loans, social security, social services, and access to Australian citizenship.
This strong sense of discrimination has emerged as a result of the amendment to the definition of Australian resident in the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth) made as a result of the Family and Community Services Legislative Amendment (New Zealand Citizens) Act 2001. One need go no further than the title of this amendment to see that it discriminates based on New Zealand nationality.
The Australian Citizenship (Permanent Resident Status New Zealand Citizens Declaration 2001) ensured that the discrimination was effective by removing our eligibility for Australian citizenship.
The then Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs officially announced the citizenship and social security changes as being for the express purpose of implementing a new social security treaty with New Zealand. The Hansard record shows that members of the Australian Parliament passed the amendments on this basis. However, as you are no doubt aware, there is no such treaty between our two countries that strips such rights only from New Zealanders but leaves the rights of Australians intact.
Similarly, the 1994 changes effected by Regulation 17 (New Zealand citizens and certain children of New Zealand citizens) of the Migration Reform (Transitional Provisions) Regulations saw the removal of official permanent resident status from most New Zealand citizens residing in Australia.
As a result of these changes, many people who live, work, pay taxes, and raise families in Australia are now never able to enjoy equal rights simply because we come from New Zealand. In short, the 1994 and 2001 amendments have made an underclass out of New Zealanders. This sad fact was confirmed by the recent decision in Faulkner vs ACE Insurance  NSWADT 36, where it was found that the insurance company in question had racially discriminated against New Zealand nationals by using the definition of Australian resident in the Social Security Act as a general eligibility condition for insurance. It was estimated by the Tribunal that up to 47% of resident New Zealanders are now excluded from this definition.
Many concerns are being consistently raised by a growing number of NZ citizens via numerous reputable community organisations and parliamentary representatives. Which can be read here http://www.maori-in-oz.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1545&Itemid=212 The sheer number of such complaints keeps growing.
In stark contrast, Australian citizens permanently residing in New Zealand become eligible to apply for NZ citizenship, tertiary student allowances and student loans, as well as all social security benefits after a reasonable residency period of 2 years. New Zealands laws prohibit discrimination based on nationality, but Australias laws do not.
In light of this systemic discrimination based on New Zealand nationality, we the undersigned ask for equal treatment to be restored to New Zealanders permanently residing in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangements. Namely, that we are again recognised as residents under the Social Security Act and as permanent residents under the Australian Citizenship and Migration acts.
To this end, we also ask for the establishment of a formal treaty between Australia and New Zealand that enshrines the rights to equality and protection from discrimination to Australians and New Zealanders alike when we are living in each others countries.
We thank you for your time and look forward to your response.
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