New Zealanders in Australia will still be second-class citizens despite a bill giving some Kiwis access to student loans, a tertiary education advocacy group says.
New Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull announced on Saturday that legislation to introduce the measure would be introduced into Australia's Parliament this week.
The bill, first announced two and a half years ago, would give loan access to Special Category Visa holders who first entered Australia as a dependent child and who have lived in Australia for at least 10 years.
If the bill passes, about 2600 New Zealanders would be eligible for loans to help them study at university or other tertiary training institutions.
New Zealand Union of Students' Associations president Rory McCourt said even after the bill was passed, Kiwi families across the ditch would still be second-class citizens when it came to tertiary education.
"It only applies to Kiwis who have lived in Australia for longer than 10 years, and students in Australia will still be denied the $426.80 a fortnight Youth Allowance and important top-ups like rent assistance."
Mr McCourt said the changes would do nothing for thousands of New Zealand children who have emigrated with their families to Australia in the last decade.
"It's disappointing that it's had to take so much public pressure for the New Zealand Government to press the Australians to pass the thing they already committed to. If equality was a priority, I think we would have seen much more much sooner," he said.
"We all have family members now living in Australia. How is it fair that their children who have grown up in Australia are denied the human right to education that their peers enjoy?
"Prime Minister John Key must redouble his efforts to see equality with the Australians. Education must be at the heart of that effort."
Australians living in New Zealand receive full entitlements to interest-free loans and student allowances after three years.
New Zealanders in Australia are entitled to only six months of Youth Allowance or New Start (unemployment) allowance and no support for paying tuition fees.
The union would seek support from the National Union of Students Australia to advance the issue on both sides of the Tasman.