The deliberate exclusion of Australian citizenship

On Australian immigration policy, it’s not often you see evidence which provides immediate clarity on an issue.

I came across this graph yesterday:

Australian citizenship by year of arrival

(Source: ‘The Unequal Treatment of New Zealanders in Australia’, by David Faulkner. With thanks to Paul Hamer for supplying the data, derived from ABS Census results)

This demonstrates one of the gross inequities afforded to one group of migrants living in Australia. Since 2001, many New Zealanders live and work in Australia yet are unable to become citizens. This is represented by the steep drop in citizenship rates above for New Zealand citizens in 2002.

Those born overseas generally become citizens, at least after a period of time. The ‘citizenship lag’, as seen by the sharp end of the blue line is due to the four year requirement to become a citizen. Those born in New Zealand have never been as enthusiastic for Australian citizenship as others however since 2001, have largely stopped becoming citizens completely.

To contrast, those arriving in 2004 are now majority Australian citizens at 56.4 per cent. Yet only 7.8 per cent of New Zealand-born arriving in same year have become Australian citizens. Over time, the blue line will likely continue to shift right and up while the red line will likely remain stagnant. This will grow the gap between the have’s and have not’s of Australian citizenship.

This is due to a new set of regulations established in 2001, placing New Zealand citizens into the same category as all other migrants in relation to gaining a permanent resident visa and a pathway to citizenship.

One of the arguments at the time of these changes was to place all migrants, regardless of origin, in the same situation. The reforms were sold as an appeal to fairness.

The main problem with this argument is the ignored context. Australia and New Zealand have an ‘open border’, allowing citizens to live and work in each country without restrictions.

The combination of an open border, and the provision of standard access to permanent visas, has resulted in a 13 year (and counting) period of time where many New Zealand citizens live and work in Australia without any hope of becoming an Australian citizen. This precludes access to a range of government support measures and creates a de-facto separation between those who can and cannot access Australian citizenship. In the most extreme cases, this means people who have severe health issues, or those who cannot speak English, are denied basic services provided to the vast majority of others who live in Australia. The appeal to fairness in 2001 was in fact a penny pinching measure designed to stem the flow of New Zealand citizens to Australia – an abject failure by any measure.

At the time, the ALP supported the 2001 reforms. It’s time to reassess these measures as they speak directly to the exclusion from Australian society of those who are here to stay. In simple numeric terms, 10,525 New Zealand citizens arrived in Australia in 2003 and still lived here on Census night 2011. More than a decade later, only 1051 are Australian citizens. This is unacceptable for a party that professes to be the best of both social-democracy and social-liberalism in Australia. The great social advancements of the last government – the NDIS in particular – are excluded to these people, despite living and contributing to Australia, in some cases for over a decade.

In his Australia Day speech this year, Bill Shorten said:

And the sooner we recognise the benefits that migration brings, the faster we will arrive at a policy that truly reflects the warmth of the Australian people.

One has the feeling he was talking about asylum seekers but this important evidence from the 2011 Census shows we have more than one area to focus on before we arrive at a policy that truly reflects the warmth of the Australian people.

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26 thoughts on “The deliberate exclusion of Australian citizenship

  1. How about we scrap the SCV and you can apply to enter Australia on an equal footing with other foreigners?

    Have a look at the UN cases that report kiwis and their unfair access to Australia when compared to other nationalities.

  2. Hi Bob, I’m a New Zealander who moved here in 2005. I’m grateful for a SCV and honestly believe it’s the will of the Australian people to have it this way. It’s their country, they call the shots and I respect that.

    To give you a bit of context however, I will say this:

    I came over here with my fiance in 2005 to start a life for ourselves. I honestly thought it was going to be temporary. Gain some experience, take it back with us etc. We moved to Townsville, got married, bought our first house, then had two Children. It’s been 9 years now and New Zealand is now foreign to me. My children will know nothing else than their Australian upbringing – they were born here, and will go to school here.

    We’re pretty tied down now. It’s impossible for us to move back at this stage. Our children will become Australian citizens eventually, however we may not. I can apply for Permanent Residency, and I will – again. I was denied the first time. It’ll cost around $7,000 all up, and that’s just for me, but for my children’s sake, at least I could never be separated from them at retirement.

    For some less fortunate people, there will not be a pathway to Citizenship. Instead, they will sell their assets and move their superannuation away from Australia to New Zealand to retire. All of the people who came here post 2001 could literally suck billions out of the Australian economy. It won’t happen any time soon, but when my generation retire in 20 – 30 years, it could have an extremely profound effect on the Australian economy.

    It makes me frustrated when I hear of Australians throwing their vote away during elections. Dismissing it as something that they “have to do”. When you can’t vote in a country you’ve come to love, its a pretty isolating experience.

    I’ll keep fighting for Permanent Residency, and I hope one day I can finally call Australia home. But until then, I will continue to be a second class citizen, paying taxes for the things that Australians enjoy.

    • You guys made the decision to come here. If you don’t agree with our laws then try your luck in another country. You can apply for PR and citizenship on an equal basis with other foreigners. If we just handed kiwis citizenship that would be highly unfair to other nationalities and an example of discrimination. One day the SCV will be scrapped and kiwis will just have to line up and apply with everybody else to come here.

  3. What a load of Garbage.
    Kiwis have more rights and exactly the same Pathways to PR and Citizenship as all other migrants in Oz.
    The UN even reported Australia had unfair discriminatory legislation in NZ citizens favour than any other nationality.
    NZ citizens even prior to 2001 had the lowest take up rate of Australian Citizenship.
    New Zealanders can apply for PR before moving to Australia – off shore applications, but few do.
    Scrap the scv immediately,
    Make New Zealanders have to pay, apply and wait lengthy times and meet our criteria before they are allowed the privilege of living and working in our beautiful country.
    And stop the whingjng – or go back to NZ if you hate our laws so much. Terrible foreign migrants freely coming here and then chucking tanties. How disrespectful you kiwis are. Get some pride.

  4. Jordan – so you have chosen to live here 9 years. I bet Australia was more foreign to you before you chose to be a migrant here. You moved to a foreign country by choice but didn’t inform yourself as to our laws.

  5. It is funny reading Australian redneck response to what is basically a discriminatory policy of Australia. Australians living in New Zealand have rights that New Zealanders living in Australia don’t, it’s simple as that. While I can understand the reasons why Australia wants to make it harder for New Zealanders living there to become Australian residents and citizens, taking taxes from New Zealanders while denying them access to services those taxes are financing is a legalised robbery in its worse sense. This does not surprise me when we all know what Australia did (and is still doing) to Aborigines. A country that was built on injustice cannot easily change its attitudes. A food for thought: if you don’t want New Zealanders to use your schools, universities, hospitals etc., why don’t you return them the taxes they are paying so they can pay for all these services privately? It’s only fair. But I forgot, we all know Australians don’t play fair.

    • Love how kiwis say it’s “discrimination” to treat them equally with other foreigners regarding PR and citizenship. Miss “Anonymous” if pit feel my country is full or rednecks then go back to NZ. We don’t want your carping kind anyways. Please tell me another donut they will allow your unskilled existence in their country.

      Your tax money go’s toward many thing the roads you drive on, the cost of arresting and keeping many of you in our jails prior to deportation.

      Nobody made you come here. You came here on your own ignorant whim. Do t like it? Then piss off. Your just a temporary guest here anyway.

    • Anonymous hey! Funny.
      NZers get more for their tax than any other migrant group, check your facts.
      Why do maori say they are so discriminated against in NZ? Why do they have the poorest education stats, crime stats, health stats, poverty stats, domestic abuse stats in NZ?
      As soon as New Zealanders get here they can get so many centrelink payments without contributing one cent to Australia. They get free public education in the same as Aussies, health etc NZers can use freely our public hospitals . Why are NZers so disrespectful to a country they made a free choice to be foreign migrants in and can choose to return to their own country.
      Got to ask why move here if NZ is all that? You abuse and hate on Aussies and cause arm and hate towards aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders here – so much disrespect from a group of foreign migrants here with NZ citizenship.
      You don’t integrate or assimilate into Australian society and communities. All you do is set up kiwi ghettos here and nz only businesses. Go back to NZ and do that.
      Time to end this scv immediately

    • I think Australia is having a gut full of carping kiwis. Time to end the SCV and make them apply for a skilled visa like everybody else. They are the ONLY group of foreigners we allow to work here with satisfying a skills visa. They are also the only group of foreigners that are not permanent residents who can use our Medicare, primary and secondary schools and attend our universities at commonwealth discounted rates.

      In many areas kiwis are a burden on our police as they are over represented in crime stats especially in SE QLD.

      This special treatment of kiwis has to end. Treat them the same as other foreigners. NZ is not part of Australia it’s as foreign a county as France is to Australia.

  6. I’m a NZer, been in the country 5 years. I didn’t even know what an SCV was until recently when my girlfriend said why don’t you look into becoming a citizen. I was a little surprised when I found out how hard it is for us lowly kiwis. Seems like Aussies are happy to take, but not give back. Bit sad really.

    • Anonymous it is no harder for kiwis than anyone else. And unlike other nationalities you don’t have to pay or apply to come and live and work in our great land. You know none of you are forced to come here. The graph proves that NZers haven’t wanted citizenship in the past but now welfare is attached to welfare, they are demanding it, that makes me laugh out loud

    • Why didn’t you know what an scv was? Its been around since 1994. 1994-2001 protected Scvs and post 2001 unprotected, the definition of scv has never been permanent resident of Australia.

    • How could you be so stupid to go to a country and not even research the immigration laws. Are you just going to fly to the united states and just get off the plane and expect to love and work there? Ignorance is no excuse of the law.

    • Tracey – Actually the graph doesn’t show that “NZers haven’t wanted citizenship in the past”. It clearly shows between 50-60 per cent of New Zealand citizens did in fact take up citizenship, compared to about 80-90 per cent of other nationalities.

      What the graph does show is that in recent years, particularly because of the 2001 changes to immigration law, the majority of long-term New Zealand citizens who live in Australia on ‘temporary’ visas now cannot access Australian citizenship. In a recent government report, the Assistant Minister for Social Services estimated only 40 per cent of non-protected SCV likely have a pathway to citizenship. This means there are between 100,000 and 150,000 people who could have lived in Australia for up to a decade with no possibility of Australian citizenship.

      You may consider these people should simply return to New Zealand, however I would argue many people would consider this specific instance of citizenship policy unfair given the context and background of these people.

  7. The two countries are supposed to have an open market leading to full integration. New Zealand should forcefully nationalise all the Australian Banks operating in New Zealand. This would be akin to the 2001 changes done by the Australian Government and would be, believe or not, devastating to the Australian economy. If you have economic integration you can’t “cherry pick” the aspects that only benefit your own country.

    • Australia is a sovereign country and can set it’s own immigration policy. It doesn’t have to check with a little country in the South Pacific. If NZ is stupid enough to let our banks into your little island then tough luck.

      Devastating to the Australian economy? I don’t think so! Your tiny country is irrelevant! It is NZ that needs Australia as Australia is NZ’s biggest trading partner!

      How about we cut all ties and your little country can look after itself. Trade with another country and defend your own island with your pathetic defence force.

  8. Bob and Tracey, its fine to argue against policies your disagree with.

    However comments such as “your tiny country is irrelevant” are unnecessarily rude and others, such as “all you do is set up ghettos here” are simply incorrect.

    Please attempt to keep this in mind for future comments.

    • Henry – why not have a go at posts that attack all Australians as above? “As we know Australians do not play fair” or calling us redneck, attacking our history. Why am I a redneck if I do consider that NZers have the same pathway as all other migrants as fair. But I also consider it very unfair and penalising other migrants in favour of NZers they can walk in and walk out, with or without jobs or money, and no other nationality has this right. For example – we have long historical ties with Britain – British citizens had the same rights in Australia as Australian citizens, Australians fought and died as soldiers of the British Empire, our largest migrant group are from Britain – but British migrants now do not have any other rights or privileges than any other nationality and far far less than migrants from New Zealand.
      Australia is proudly made up of over 200 nationalities, how can we continue to favour in such a way just one nationality? How is that considered fair and non discriminatory when there are migrants from all corners of the world that would love the opportunity just to be able to experience living and working here but they are refused because our criteria and money to do so is restrictive for all but one.
      Why should someone’s family from New Zealand get easy access but someone else’s family from china be refused or have to wait Years and years and pay large visa fees to be able to live with their family. Why does Australian migration policy discriminate against all other nationalities in comparison to one – NZers make up 2.5% of our population and many do come here and abuse and attack Australians – we get told we are rednecks because we disagree with them or fight back after being abused by them, we get told we are lazy, that Australia would shut down if they stopped work – how they are 2% of our workforce, that Australia would go broke if it were not for New Zealanders taxes, when the stats show tax revenue from NZ citizens in oz is about $5billion per year and Australia’s total annual tax revenue is over $300billion per year.
      How can my opinions be considered racist or redneck when I say fair and equal immigration policy for all – regardless if you are Chinese, American, British, French, Indian, Canadian, German, NZ etc etc etc is what Australia should be and need to be putting in place,
      Migration policy changed for our migrants from Britain (our once mother country) and country to our queen, so policy change re NZ citizens to have policies fair for all nationalities once and for all is the right way to go.
      I and I consider many Australians, new and old, would certainly vote and support to cease the scv once and for all – and Australia will have fair and equal migration policy.
      How is this opinion redneck when I am opposition discrimination, which is exactly what we have right now – discrimination in favour of NZ citizens and unfair to all other nationalities

    • FYI too – I am married to a Kiwi. He is a post 2001 kiwi and obtained Australian citizenship 2 years ago. His work sponsored him. And he totally agrees with the opinions I have posted. His employer sponsored him and another guy from France – same costs, time and criteria. A German employee did not meet all health criteria, even though employer was going to sponsor him, so after 7 years his work visa was not renewed and he and his family – 2 children who were both born in oz had to return to Germany.

  9. I am Tracey’s husband and I totally support her views. I am a kiwi – born and bred as well as now an Australian Citizen, which I am very proud to be.

    A real issue I have is a lot of my fellow kiwis do not do any investigation into what moving to Australia means for them. No personal responsibility is taken for such a major decision – migrating to a foreign country.

    Prior to my decision to migrate to Australia in 2004, I engaged a migration consultant. He was able to be involved in advising me re employer sponsorship.

    I note the graph above shows an even steeper decline in overseas born migrants taking up australian citizenship than it does for NZ born migrants. In 1970 there was a 30% difference between Nz born and other overseas born, in 2008 – 2010 there is zero difference. Also there will be a steep rise in Nz citizens taking up Australian Citizenship in the next 12 or so months, I expect, due to the RRV, which is another loophole us kiwis have over the majority of other nationalities in gaining Australian Citizenship cheap and easy.

    I consider the time has come to cease the open borders between NZ and Australia, cease the SCV, and base migration on skills and humanitarian criteria for all and not based on nationality as is currently the case – biased in favour only to NZ citizens. Now that is a true discrimination policy, affording privileges based on Nationality only to NZ citizens, when Australia is looking to be the best multi cultural country in the world – it can’t be when a major migration policy is so discriminatory against all but one.

    • I agree David. Allowing only kiwis free access to our country is similar to the white Australia policy. All people regardless of where they come from should be treated the same. Time for the SCV to be scrapped.

    • Hi David – In the period 2008-10, the comparisons are invalid. Most people cannot obtain citizenship until they have been in Australia for about four years (there are of course some unique exceptions). Therefore the figures from 2008 are not a valid comparison with the figure say, for 1994 or 1984.

      I agree migrants should attempt to verse themselves in the policy of other countries then intend to migrate to. However, the open nature of the New Zealand-Australian immigration policy – and the history of it – means it is a unique policy. The longer a person lives in a country, the more moral right they accrue in becoming part of the state as a citizen. You see this the world over, where former “illegal” migrants are provided with citizenship (the US in 1986) or where long-term temporary guest workers (Turkish migrants in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s) were provided citizenship.

      By having an open immigration policy with New Zealand, Australia should afford more rights and pathways to citizenship for New Zealand migrants. The alternative is to remove the SCV pathway however this would radically reshape relations between the two countries and be a throwback to protectionist eras. I believe people who live in a country for over 5-6 years (legally) should be afforded a relatively simple pathway to citizenship. This imbues social cohesion and ensures the safety net captures those who require it from the state. Non-citizens are excluded from this process, even those who have been living here for decades.

    • If that is what the thinking over there is, maybe then Australian politicians should dispense with the platitudes such as New Zealand is “family”, “Family” indeed.

      David, I find it interesting that, beyond supporting your wife, that you support ‘raising the draw bridge’ after you yourself and that now you are an Australian citizen you think Australia should not allow your fellow Kiwis in. It is a bit like people raised on welfare when they were young being hostile to welfare recipients once they become wealthier.

      It is common for countries around the world to have special immigration with other countries. The EU do it, Singapore does it and to some degree Canada and and US do for each other citizens.

      Then arrangements between NZ and Australia are the result of a long-standing agreement. If you and are prepared to consider research, Australia benefits enormously from this arrangement as it gets very many highly educated New Zealanders whose training has been funded by NZ.

      One parting comment, while I love Australia and enjoy going there frequently, I choose to live in NZ and that is because human rights are better here. I am proud that NZ was the first country in the world to give women the vote and Maoris were also given the vote early too.

      Aboriginals were only recognised as citizens and put on the population register in the 1960s and Australia’s human rights record is not a proud one. Judging by this blog, I expect more than a few Australians would think this is the natural order of things. In my experience, most Kiwis would not, so therefore maybe in this neighbourhood we are ‘foreign’.

  10. Henry
    I will suggest then we will agree to disagree
    Changes in migration policies, treaties etc changed in the past and will continue to change..
    I consider change to migration policies between NZ and Australia as necessary and important to reflect the changes in migration and relationships not restricted to two countries but worldwide.
    Fairness and equality cannot be achieved when migration policies are discriminatory to all other nations bar one.
    Its only a matter of time that the cessation of such migration policies exist in Australia – in my opinion.

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