Kiwi Libby Shaw starts petition calling for change to Australian immigration rules enabling citizenship

By Sarah Harris

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that From April 20 applicants for citizenship must have been a permanent resident for four years - up from one year currently. Photo/Doug Sherring
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that From April 20 applicants for citizenship must have been a permanent resident for four years - up from one year currently. Photo/Doug Sherring

A Kiwi living in Australia has started a petition after the announcement of new immigration rules making it harder for New Zealanders to gain Australian citizenship.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced tough new rules under which applicants for citizenship must now have been a permanent resident for four years - up from one year.

That puts many Kiwis in Australia on the back foot. Permanent residents cannot get student loans, join the defence force, or vote in Australia. Non-citizens can also be deported if they commit a minor crime.

Applicants for citizenship will also need to pass an English test and provide evidence they have been working.

Kiwi expat Libby Shaw described the proposed rules as "being slapped in the face" by the Australian Government. She has started a petition calling for Turnbull to axe the bill.

Shaw, a freelance writer who has lived in Sydney since 2008, said she had been counting down the days until she could get her citizenship. The 31-year-old had two-and-a-half years to get her permanent residency then one year before she was eligible for citizenship, but now she has a seven-year wait all up.

Kiwi expat Libby Shaw has started a petition calling for the Australian Government to axe strict citizenship rules for New Zealanders. Photo/supplied
Kiwi expat Libby Shaw has started a petition calling for the Australian Government to axe strict citizenship rules for New Zealanders. Photo/supplied

Shaw wants to join the Liberal political party, which she can only do when she gains citizenship. She is also outraged that this prevents her from voting.

"I was counting down the days to having an Australian passport, for a country I love. It's just gutting.

"Not having citizenship means I don't have security if something was to happen. People say 'you can always go back to New Zealand'. But it doesn't work that way, Australia is my home."

Shaw believed the Australian Government had no motivation to listen to Kiwis as all of those affected by this change can't vote.

"Not being able to vote is a pretty big thing.

"If you don't have a voice you have to accept the status quo and it means you can't stand up for the injustices in the world.

"Having a voice is supposed to be an Australian value."'

Last year a new "Pathway to Citizenship" was created for Kiwis in Australia, which Turnbull and then-Prime Minister John Key trumpeted as a sign of the close bond between the two countries.

The pathway allowed New Zealanders who arrived in Australia between 2001 and early 2016 and who had earned more than A$53,000 ($56,700) a year for five consecutive years to apply for permanent residence from July 1, 2017.

It was meant to speed up the path for citizenship but under the new rules, they would then need to wait another four years to become citizens - making a total of nine years for some.

The bill still must be tabled in Parliament but if passed into law would be backdated to apply to all citizenship applications from yesterday.

Last night the Oz Kiwi organisation was calling for New Zealanders in the country to campaign to stop the bill being made law.

Many also called for the New Zealand Government to reciprocate by making it harder for Australians to get New Zealand citizenship.

​Australian citizenship key benefits

• ​Financial assistance for education including student loans.
• ​Vote in federal and state or territory elections, and in a referendum.
• ​Apply for work in the Australian Public Service or in the Australian Defence Force.
• ​Seek election to parliament.
• ​Apply for an Australian passport and re-enter Australia freely.
• ​Receive help from an Australian official while overseas.
• ​Register children born overseas as Australian citizens by descent.
• ​Protection from deportation for committing crimes.

- NZ Herald

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