READER REPORT:

Australia isn't that easy for Kiwis

CHRIS RIVERS
Last updated 11:00 01/03/2013

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Like others, I have lived in Australia at various times. In the late sixties and in the nineties, there were no problems.

I was treated respectfully, and allowed to pay taxes and to vote, and I was allowed to work for the government too.

My Australian wife and I moved to New Zealand at the beginning of the 1990s. We had a son and we made sure that we secured his dual citizenship.

We had a further stint in Australia and then came back to New Zealand for work in the mid 90s.

When we returned to Australia permanently in 2005 we found things quite different.

There were no rights for a Kiwi other than healthcare.

We were also penalised over medical insurance which my wife had had for about 25 years before letting it go through our move to New Zealand.

We were hit because we were not insured on Feb 1, 2001, and therefore would have to pay a levy on top of the insurance premium of about 67 per cent.

I became aware that it would be relevant to take out citizenship, as the spouse of an Australian, and set about going through that process in 2009.

It takes four years and earlier residency from 2005 did not count. So far it has cost $4,000 for application fees, medicals, police checks, etc.

Contrast this with my wife who had 10 continuous years of residency in New Zealand. Starting immediately after her arrival she progressively gained all rights Kiwis have over a two-year period.

We were entitled to healthcare, voting, access to all social welfare benefits and so on - not that we needed any government support - but the "safety net" was there.


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