Kiwis in Australia May Have Fighting Chance with Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey

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By Reissa Su | July 28, 2014 5:30 PM EST

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey has hinted of helping Kiwis living and working in Australia. According to reports, Hockey indicated that the Australian government may be open to changes in rules affecting New Zealanders.

REUTERS/William West/Pool
Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey speaks during the B20 Summit in Sydney July 18, 2014. REUTERS/William West/Pool

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has raised the issue with Hockey. Citing his talk with Mr Key, the Australian treasurer said he thinks the government can make some changes but he wants to go back and speak to his colleagues first.

In an interview with NZ TV3, Hockey said there were welfare issues that Mr Key had "put a pretty convincing case."  He added he will study the cost of possible changes.

About 300,000 Kiwis are currently living and working in Australia. They are required to pay taxes like Australian citizens but have no access to welfare payments, disability care and social housing.

New Zealanders have been called "carping Kiwis" and "South Sea Poms" after a survey has revealed that Kiwis are the unhappiest migrants in Australia. According to a study by Monash University in Melbourne, New Zealanders were the most likely to be discriminated against and dissatisfied with their financial status. Kiwis in Australia also did not feel safer and do not view Australians as "nice."

In the survey, 40 per cent of Kiwi migrants in Australia revealed they were "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with their financial situation, while 46 per cent thought they were either poor or struggling or just getting by.

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." 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.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has repeatedly urged Mr Key to take a tougher stance and fight for the rights of Kiwis living in Australia. He called on the government to assert that Kiwis in Australia don't have the same rights as Australians living in New Zealand.

Cunliffe added Kiwis are being "treated like third-class citizens" despite their contribution to Australian society, including tax payments. 

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(Photo: REUTERS/William West/Pool / )
Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey speaks during the B20 Summit in Sydney July 18, 2014. REUTERS/William West/Pool
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