Foreign Policy Defeat Kills Kiwi Rights In Aus
Foreign Policy Defeat Kills Kiwi Rights In Australia
Monday 26th Feb 2001
Helen Clark’s trans-Tasman agreement with Australia is the most significant foreign policy defeat ever suffered by a New Zealand prime minister, ACT leader Richard Prebble said today.
“Her agreement on restricting New Zealanders’ access to Australia is not about the cost of welfare payments, but the cost of Labour’s free-loading in defence.
“Helen Clark’s deal with John Howard brings an end to the decades-long special arrangement by which New Zealanders were automatically entitled to permanent residence in Australia.
“The effect on people’s everyday lives is that from now on, many New Zealanders planning to live in Australia will be treated as second-class citizens. Yes, they can work and pay tax – but no, they can’t expect routine help if they get sick or lose their job – and they have lost their role in their community by no longer having the automatic right to become citizens and vote.
“Until now, New Zealanders and Australians have been like cousins – freely moving between each other’s countries, marrying, working and going to war as close neighbours and friends.
“No amount of spin from Helen Clark can alter the fact that New Zealand’s most important foreign policy relationship has undergone a fundamental, negative change. Under pressure from our bigger neighbour, now more interested in wider world events, she has buckled to their demands, but presented it as a matter of costs.
“It’s clear that Australian prime minister John Howard and his cabinet regard New Zealand as a liability. In particular, Australia’s willingness to consider a free trade agreement with the United States, without New Zealand involvement, shows just how far the relationship has deteriorated.
“It is inconceivable that previous Australian Governments would have considered this. They have done so because they believe that the solemn undertakings of previous New Zealand governments have been torn up by this Labour-Alliance coalition.
“When Kiwis in Australia find Helen Clark’s actions have banned them from voting there, they are much more likely to vote in New Zealand elections – and it won’t be for the coalition,” Richard Prebble said.