Desperate New Zealanders Eat Dog Food, Live in Cars in Australia

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By Reissa Su | September 2, 2013 2:51 PM EST

Desperate times call for desperate measures as New Zealanders in Australia struggle with basic necessities because of strict Australian welfare law. 

Unlike Australians living in New Zealand, Kiwis who moved to Australia will not be entitled to government assistance like unemployment and sickness benefits.  Some New Zealanders were finding it difficult to make ends meet, according to an Oz Kiwi organisation in Queensland that pushes for Kiwi equal rights in Australia. 

Oz Kiwi spokesperson Filipa Payne said that poor New Zealanders resorted to eating dog food and living in cars since they can no longer afford to pay for their homes. Some children don't bring lunches to school while others attend classes without shoes. 

Ms Payne said the poverty line for Kiwis is the lowest in Australia and not like everyone else. In desperation, some Kiwis have sought the help of Vicky Rose who manages the Nerang Neighborhood Centre. 

Ms Rose said she has already seen Kiwis living in Australia for more than six years and yet still struggle daily.

Greg Rudd, a senator and the brother of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Tudd, had earlier said Kiwis should be given government assistance. He said New Zealanders should be treated equally. Senator Rudd called Australians "ungrateful bastards" over laws that prevent New Zealanders from being citizens of Australia. 

Mr Rudd had said earlier in Aug. 2013 that laws denying New Zealand expats access to disability care and social security payments were "draconian".   

New Zealanders who had moved to Australia after 2001 had no voting rights and access to citizenship and benefits in case of unemployment and sickness. Kiwis also don't have single parent benefits and loans.

In New Zealand, Australians who are living in the country have access to the benefits not available to Kiwis in Australia. Some may wait for two years. This is better compared to no access at all.  

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