‘The Project’ NZ Has Slammed The Australian Govt As “Bullies” That Treat Kiwis Like Dirt

CC: Julie Bishop.

With all that’s going on in international politics at the moment, it’s understandable if you’ve missed out on a few things closer to home. Let’s check in on the headlines!

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has come out swinging after a New Zealand Labour MP was involved in kicking off Barnaby Joyce’s citizenship scandal.

Last week, NZ Labour’s Chris Hipkins approached the country’s Minister of Internal Affairs enquiring as to whether a child born in Australia to a Kiwi father would automatically have NZ citizenship. Bishop has now accused the Australian Labor Party of colluding with its NZ counterpart to undermine the government, and said she’d find it hard to work with the country if Labour were to win the upcoming national election.

NZ Labour leader Jacinda Adrern has distanced the party from the move and said she’s committed to getting the countries’ relationship back on track. But on last night’s episode of The Project — yep, NZ has its own bizarro version — co-host Jesse Mulligan took things in the exact opposite direction.

“[Bishop’s comment] sounds like a serious threat, until you realise that for the past few years, the Aussies have already been treating us basically like dirt,” Mulligan said.

“Despite longstanding agreements which are supposed to give us special rights, New Zealanders seeking a better life in Australia have not been made to feel welcome. They’re not allowed to access unemployment benefits, university subsidies or disaster relief. And even though last year Aussie agreed to give us a special path to citizenship, this year they betrayed that agreement.

“So tell me again about this so-called special relationship?”

Australia’s treatment of New Zealand citizens has been a huge issue since changes were made to immigration policy and the Social Security Act back in 2001. After a long-running reciprocal arrangement that guaranteed certain benefits and pathways to citizenship for people from both countries, the Howard Government cut Kiwis out of the deal and made their lives in Australia incredibly difficult.

New Zealand citizens who arrived in the country after 2001 are able to live and work indefinitely, but are unable to access crucial government support and are, in many cases, left without any pathway to permanent residency (a requirement for citizenship). This has been made even worse recently by the Turnbull government’s changes to citizenship laws which dashed any hopes for change, and Australia’s love of chucking people in detention centres.

As Mulligan notes, this is not the deal for Australians in New Zealand.

“Now when Aussies arrive in New Zealand they get the full Anzac treatment, right? Permanent residency, within a few years they get access to student loans, and to benefits. Becoming a citizen costs less than 500 bucks.

“Kiwis arriving in Australia get none of that. When our politicians raise it in meetings we’re ignored and the 600,000 Kiwis living in Australia can’t do anything about it, because despite paying full taxes, they’re not allowed to vote. Forget the trans-Tasman friendship in 2017 — Australia is basically a bully.

“So Julie Bishop, when you say you’ll find it hard to work with New Zealand, what exactly do you mean? How much worse could it possibly get?”