If the 300,000 Kiwis living on special category visa in Australia were hoping for some good news on welfare benefits to come their way, this news will leave them disheartened. The sweet-talking Australian government feels New Zealanders in Australia already have enough benefits. Shredding hope that the policy would change anytime soon, the Australian position was reiterated not once, but twice on Wednesday - by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Canberra and by his senior colleague, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Auckland.
New Zealanders living in Australia under a special category visa have long been complaining about being ineligible for welfare benefits. In spite of paying billions of dollars in taxes, they are denied some key benefits of permanent residency, such as disability care, welfare and social housing. New Zealand, however, extends all benefits to Australians living in their country under the same visa arrangement.
The plight of New Zealanders in Australia was one of the key topics of discussion when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met her New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully, in Auckland.
Fielding questions from the press on the issue after the meeting, Ms Bishop said New Zealanders gained from being able to live, work and study in Australia.
"I can assure you Mr McCully raised that matter with me, we discussed it at length," the Australian foreign minister said in reply to questions from reporters.
"The way we see it there is a unique arrangement with New Zealand that no other country has," she stated.
"We obviously have budgetary constraints ... we believe we have the balance right but we're always prepared to listen to our friends in New Zealand," Ms Bishop clarified.
It is a position reiterated by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
"New Zealanders have better access to Australia than the citizens of any other country and that's right and proper," said Mr Abbott and, like his cabinet colleague, he added that he was happy to discuss the issue further with his New Zealand counterpart.
Mr Abbott was speaking after his meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Canberra on Wednesday.
"But I'm very happy with the situation that exists right now, which is that Kiwis coming here know that they're expected to work and pay taxes from day one," Mr Abbott pointed out.
The New Zealand Prime Minister, however, said he would continue to advocate for New Zealanders in Australia.
"(But) we totally respect the sovereign right of the Australian government to make the decision how it will treat people that come and work in Australia," Mr Key said.
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