Oz watchdog speaks up for Kiwis

By Greg Ansley

New national disability scheme will not be available to post-2001 residents from NZ, but they still have to pay.

The non-protected visas issued to all New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after February 26, 2001 also deny access to most other welfare and support programmes. Photo / Thinkstock
The non-protected visas issued to all New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after February 26, 2001 also deny access to most other welfare and support programmes. Photo / Thinkstock

Australia's parliamentary human rights watchdog has expressed concerns over the exclusion of expatriate New Zealanders from the new national disability insurance scheme, despite having to help fund it.

After submissions from New Zealand advocate David Faulkner and pressure from a new Facebook campaign targeting the treatment of Kiwis who arrived after February 2001, the joint committee on human rights will take its concerns to Disability Reform Minister Jenny Macklin.

Ms Macklin, who is also Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, steered the passage of the disability legislation which specifically excludes expatriate Kiwis living in Australia on non-protected special category visas.

The non-protected visas issued to all New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after February 26, 2001 also deny access to most other welfare and support programmes.

But while not eligible to benefit from the programme, "non-protected" New Zealanders have to pay the extra 0.5 per cent imposed on the Medicare universal health care system levy to fund the scheme.

"The exclusion of certain New Zealand residents in Australia from access to the NDIS raises a number of human rights concerns," the committee says in a report on the legislation.

"These include issues of equal protection of the law and non-discrimination on the basis of nationality, national origin, immigration status and the right to social security and its non-discriminatory enjoyment."

Mr Faulkner had earlier written to the committee claiming the legislation did not comply with Australia's international human rights treaty obligations, and that it breached the Convention on the Rights of the Child by denying disability support to the children of New Zealanders, including those born in Australia. The committee said "non-protected" New Zealanders were treated differently from citizens of other countries.

Unlike other non-Australian citizens they could stay in Australia indefinitely and could therefore live most of there lives there without ever becoming eligible for access to the disability scheme should they require it.

The committee referred to the Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Racial Discrimination and its rejection of differential treatment based on citizenship or immigration status.

It also cited the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the requirement that the right to social security not be subject to "arbitrary and unreasonable restrictions".

This included the right to equal enjoyment of adequate protection from social risks and contingencies, and prohibited discrimination on the grounds of nationality. People who had contributed to a scheme should be able to benefit from it or get their money back when they left.

The parliamentary committee said it would seek clarification from Ms Macklin on whether the exclusion of New Zealanders who have become long-term residents is consistent with the right to non-discrimination and the right to social security.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 02 Oct 2014 18:54:57 Processing Time: 536ms