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NZ Government damaging Trans-Tasman relationship


Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

11 December 2000

NZ Government damaging Trans-Tasman relationship

A plan to limit the provision of social services to New Zealanders in Australia represents a serious deterioration in the Trans-Tasman relationship under the present New Zealand Government, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"The Prime Minister has agreed to dramatically downgrade New Zealanders' rights to live, work and access services in Australia. She has agreed to this without in any way consulting with the people of New Zealand.

"The tightening of social service eligibility criteria is, in my view, a direct response to the New Zealand Government's decision earlier this year to permit overstayers who have hidden from the law for five years or more to gain New Zealand citizenship. Allowing people to become citizens simply because they have successfully evaded the law was a move contrary to logic - which was understandably interpreted by Australia as a potential source of unskilled migrants crossing the Tasman.

"This comes on top of Helen Clark's moves to downgrade the New Zealand military to a point at which it might consist solely of Army personnel trained for peacekeeping and no other roles. Those moves have been greeted with dismay by Australian politicians and media commentators.

"Australia is most likely to benefit from the proposed changes to social service entitlement, which will allow skilled New Zealand workers and graduates to cross the Tasman to Australia and settle long-term. New Zealand will be left coping with the loss of those skilled citizens, while also carrying responsibility for the semi-skilled and unskilled people who will be bounced back to New Zealand because they don't meet the required level to qualify for permanent resident status in Australia.

"This change, brought on by the incompetent and incomprehensible immigration policy enacted by the current New Zealand Government, is deeply regrettable. It represents a fundamental change to the relationship between the two countries, and is a big step away from the 'single labour market' approach which has until now been agreed to by both countries," Mrs Shipley said.

Ends


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