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NZ Welcomes UK Decision On ‘The Big OE’

30 May 2002

New Zealand welcomes the decision of the British Home Office to maintain the current working holiday arrangement for young kiwis and the possibility of it expanding the scheme, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

“The British Home Office discussion document confirms there will be no erosion in the current arrangement. Also up for further discussion is extending the upper age of eligibility from 27 to 30, allowing multiple two-year visits on the scheme and relaxing the rules prohibiting professional and fulltime work.

“The Government has kept in close contact with the British Government on the issue since the Immigration Review began last year. I wrote to British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and met with the British High Commissioner to New Zealand while the Prime Minister discussed the issue with Tony Blair and Mr Straw.

“We reminded the United Kingdom that the overseas experience was a tradition for young New Zealanders and of benefit to the British economy.

“Sending those messages have paid dividends with the good news of retention of the current scheme and possible expansion of it.

“Jack Straw wrote to me in March giving the reassurance that New Zealand’s interests would be looked after in the review. It is pleasing that this has now been confirmed.

“About 7000 young kiwis take advantage of the current Working Holiday Scheme arrangement with Britain while the quota of 8000 is fully subscribed by young Brits coming to New Zealand.

“The working holiday decision shows New Zealanders continue to be very welcome in the United Kingdom and that bilateral relations are as strong as ever,” Mr Goff said.

Ends


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