NZ citizenship deal to 'screen out the poor', advocacy group says

John Key and Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Friday. Source: AAP

An New Zealand advocacy group says many low-income earners and stay-at-home mothers will not meet the income threshold announced today as part of a new pathway for New Zealanders to access Australian citizenship.

An advocacy group for New Zealanders living in Australia says a citizenship deal announced today will discriminate against stay-at-home-mums, low-income earners and the disabled.

The deal was announced today following a meeting between Malcolm Turnbull and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Sydney.

The changes will enable those who have resided in Australia for five years or more and during that time earned income in excess of the temporary skills migration income threshold, which is about $54,000 a year.

"I think this is a very important recognition of the very close ties between Australia and New Zealand," Mr Turnbull said.

Joanne Cox, of New Zealand advocacy group Oz Kiwi, said the group was "cautious" about the announcement until further detail was available but said it looked like a "tool to screen out the poor," because many New Zealanders would fail to meet requirements.

"It will be a pathway for a number of people who have arrived since 2001 to access to permanent residency and citizenship, so that’s a win," she said. "But for every win there’s a loss."

"[For] those people who will not have earned sufficient income over the last five years, it’s going to be similar to a skilled visa by the sounds of things and many New Zealanders aren’t eligible for a skilled visa because they don’t work in the right fields."

"The people who will be excluded are the low-income earners, the stay-at-home mums and the disabled."

On the Department of Immigration's website, it states that the new pathway "will be made available within the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) stream of Australia's annual Migration Programme."

"This additional visa pathway will be available from 1 July 2017, for New Zealand citizens who arrived post 26 February 2001, but on or before, the date of the announcement, 19 February 2016."

The Department estimates 60,000 – 70,000 of the 140,000 Special Category Visa-holders who arrived in Australia after 2001 will be eligible.

- With AAP

Source SBS

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