Welfare for Kiwis in Aussie mooted

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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Australia should grant Kiwis living long term across the Tasman greater access to public services and welfare, a report by the two countries' Productivity Commissions says.

In a report to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Closer Economic Relations (CER) released today, the commissions made 30 recommendations to increase competitiveness, productivity and economic integration between the two countries.

The findings noted the lack of access to public services and welfare for some Kiwis living in Australia, "many of whom have paid taxes for many years".

While New Zealanders are able to live and work in Australia with almost no restrictions, those who moved there since 2001 are on a special visa, which many Australian agencies put in a class of temporary residents.

The resulting lack of social provisions has hit headlines here, especially after it emerged Kiwis were missing out on emergency payments following the Queensland floods last year.

The joint commission report recommends a clear pathway for Kiwis to become permanent residents, improve access to training and education through the provision of student loans, and develop "explicit" principles for access to social security.

Other recommendations include: Developing a trans-Tasman tourist visa for foreigners visiting both countries.

Eliminating the remaining trans-Tasman tariffs under CER's rules of origin.

Lowering mobile roaming charges.

Mutual recognition of imputation credits on dividends.

The report appears to offer greater immediate benefits to New Zealand than Australia.

It acknowledges that mutual recognition of imputation credits - which prevent both company and shareholder being taxed on the same profit - would probably hit Australia's national income more than New Zealand's.

The report acknowledges some of its 30 policy initiatives "will require more-detailed consideration".

A joint statement from Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and John Key welcomed the report, but did not refer directly to its findings.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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