Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is concerned proposed changes to legislation in Queensland could be seen as directly targeting New Zealanders.
The state government there wants to strip tens of thousands of New Zealanders ‘‘temporarily’’ residing in Queensland of protection from state discrimination after it nearly lost a battle to refuse help to a disabled Kiwi.
In a statement, McCully said that while the proposed legislation did not refer specifically to New Zealanders, he was concerned that the amendments could be seen as targeting them.
‘‘I have asked officials to follow up with the state government to clarify the intention of the proposed amendments,’’ he said.
If the bill were to pass, government agencies could deny support based on someone’s residency status and it would no longer be considered discriminatory. The amendments are part of a broader bill which passed its first reading on Thursday.
Labour’s Foreign Affairs Spokesman Phil Goff said the New Zealand Government needed to stand up for the rights of New Zealanders in Australia.
‘‘I think it’s unfortunate that they appear to be wanting to entrench discrimination against New Zealanders.
‘‘New Zealanders are the only group of people living permanently in Australia who aren’t given the rights of permanent residents.’’
Goff said in the reverse situation in New Zealand, Australians who were permanent residents had all the associated rights.
The bill comes after New Zealander Hannah Campbell came close to successfully suing the Queensland Government for discrimination after she was denied disability support for cerebral palsy.
She had lived in Australia for years.
The bill will now be considered by a select committee, which is accepting submissions until November 8.
- © Fairfax NZ News