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Deal Shows Worsening Trans-Tasman Relations

Australian Benefit Deal Shows Worsening Trans-Tasman Relations

National's Foreign Affairs spokesman Max Bradford says a trans-Tasman deal which will be signed later this month limiting the welfare rights of New Zealanders in Australia is further proof of a widening gap in the relationship between the two countries under the current Government.

"Helen Clark's bizarre approach to defence has deeply upset the Australians, although diplomacy means Australia cannot say that publicly. The current moves to limit the rights of kiwis in Australia are to a degree a direct result of decisions such as the cancellation of the F-16 deal and New Zealand's exclusive focus on peacekeeping.

"Another key factor in the deterioration is the Government's erratic immigration policy. Allowing overstayers who hide from the law for five years to qualify as New Zealanders has done little to encourage Australia's commitment to a common labour market.

"Australia has argued fairly consistently for limiting the rights of New Zealanders in Australia, especially as regards access to residency and welfare rights. Under National we successfully protected those rights because of the strength of our wider economic and close defence relationship.

"Under this Labour-Alliance minority Government many Australians see New Zealand as freeloaders, and that has created a slow but discernible deterioration in our historically strong relationship with Australia.

"Skilled New Zealanders will still be able to emigrate across the Tasman, since they never accessed the unemployment benefit in Australia anyway. But under the new scheme unemployed New Zealanders in Australia will simply return home. This deal will reduce the number of kiwis on the Australian welfare register, and put them back on ours.

"Helen Clark will no doubt try to spin the line that this deal will save millions of taxpayer dollars, but that is arrant nonsense and she knows it," Max Bradford said.


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