Business

Jacinda Ardern asks Scott Morrison to give Kiwis coronavirus welfare payments

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has requested Kiwis living in Australia have access to welfare during the pandemic. Source: AP

The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to provide Kiwis living in Australia welfare assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked Scott Morrison to temporarily lift the ban on Kiwis receiving unemployment benefits in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic. 

At a press conference on Tuesday Ms Ardern said she had made the request directly to Mr Morrison during a phone conversation. 

"I have specifically sought could we have a short-term exemption? Just for these exceptional circumstances for New Zealanders to be supported," she said. 

"Not least because it will encourage compliance during this time when we need people to be self-isolating for instances," she added. 

She noted there had been no changes to Australia's policy since the conversation.

New Zealanders have been excluded access to welfare assistance since 2001. 

A number of New Zealanders living in Australia have told SBS News they were extremely worried they would be left destitute without support from the Australian government.

It is unclear if New Zealander sole traders in Australia will have access to small business support provided by the Australian government, but they are currently ineligible for the new increased COVID-19 jobseeker payment.

SBS News sent questions to the Minister for Social Services Anne Ruston regarding the eligibility of New Zealanders for various COVID-19 support payments and is yet to receive a response.

Ms Ardern said that Australians employed by businesses which have received government assistance may be eligible.  

"If they are employed in a firm that has received assistance, my understanding is then they are not excluded from the ability of the business to provide them with support as part of the business and employer packages," she said. 

A Change.org petition calling on the Australian government to provide New Zealand citizens in Australia with support during the coronavirus pandemic has attracted almost 120,000 signatures.

If you believe you may have contracted the coronavirus, call your doctor (don't visit), or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

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