Australian PM Tony Abbott Remains Tough on Kiwi Migrant Rights, Asylum Seeker Policy

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By Reissa Su | February 7, 2014 6:36 PM EST

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has maintained his ground on the rights of Kiwis living in Australia. New Zealanders who have migrated to Australia may have their hopes shot down when Mr Abbott said he expected Kiwis to be "lifters, not leaners" in a report by the Guardian.


Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) walks beside Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa after taking the official photograph during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in Colombo November 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

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In a joint press conference in Sydney with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Mr Abbott said he was pleased to have New Zealanders get automatic right to residency and rights to work since no other country in the world has been given the same opportunity.

In New Zealand, Labor leader David Cunliffe urged Mr Key to take a tougher stance and fight for the rights of Kiwis living in Australia.

Mr has said he is happy with the current arrangement with New Zealanders living and working in Australia. But Mr Cunliffe remarked it was time for Mr Key to assert that Kiwis in Australia don't have the same rights as Australians living in New Zealand. Mr Cunliffe added Kiwis are being "treated like third-class citizens" despite their contribution to Australian society, including tax payments. 

Asylum seeker policy "tough"

Meanwhile, the Australia Greens criticised the Coalition government and Mr Abbott for turning back a boatload of asylum seekers with young children reportedly onboard.  Asylum seekers were sent back to Indonesian waters in an Australian lifeboat.

According to ABC and SkyNews, the asylum seeker boat was close to Christmas Island when the Australian Navy intercepted it. The people on board were reportedly from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

Greens MP Sarah Hanson-Young said she was concerned about Australia pushing back boats especially with children as young as 18 months on board. Ms Hanson-Young said the latest attempt to turn away asylum seeker boats just showed that the government has failed to control asylum seekers from coming to Australian territory.

Mr Abbott had declared on Feb 7 that no asylum seeker was able to reach Australia by boat in 50 days. He said it was longest period since 2008 as he concluded that the asylum seeker policy was "tough but effective."

The Australian government has been accused of outlawing "everyday behaviour" following the leak of documents containing a code of conduct for asylum seekers. According to various reports, the draft code reportedly decreed that asylum seekers who spit or swear in public and spread rumours will be deported.

The leaked document containing the alleged rules was reportedly drafted by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Based on the code of conduct, asylum seekers will be sent back to where they came from if they "disturb someone," "irritate people" or "exclude someone from a group or place on purpose."

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(Photo: / )
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) walks beside Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa after taking the official photograph during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in Colombo November 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)
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