Cunliffe calls for Kiwi respect in Australia

Last updated 05:00 28/11/2013

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has used his first international speech as leader to call for "equal treatment and the same respect" for Kiwi expats in Australia as Aussies receive here.

Australians studying here could access student allowances and loans after two years, while most Kiwis studying in Australia were denied similar payments, he said in a speech to the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney.

"New Zealanders living in Australia are also forced to pay public disability insurance, but most will get no support if a tragedy occurs."

Australians living in New Zealand paid ACC premiums and were given that support if they needed it.

Cunliffe's approach is in contrast to Prime Minister John Key's softer line on the issue.

"Another fundamental area where the fair go does not go both ways is citizenship. Australian nationals who come to live in New Zealand can eventually become full participants in New Zealand life but many New Zealand nationals in Australia cannot become fully-fledged Australians," Mr Cunliffe said.

But the inequality went beyond the law, he said.

"There is a widespread misconception that Kiwi migrants to Australia have limited skills and are more likely to be unemployed. However, the reality is very different. New Zealanders moving to Australia tend to be young, skilled and in many cases, are tertiary educated."

It was the Government's job to advocate for citizens overseas.

"I am committed to working with our Australian counterparts to make sure the Anzac tradition of equality and respect is strengthened and built upon for our mutual benefit."

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- Fairfax Media

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