28 Nov 2013

Govt to 'keep working' on NZers rights in Australia

9:18 am on 28 November 2013

Finance Minister Bill English says his government can only do so much to better the lot of New Zealanders living across the Tasman.

At the annual Australia-New Zealand leadership forum in Sydney, Labour Party leader David Cunliffe said the Government should be pushing harder for fairer treatment of New Zealanders who move to Australia.

Bill English says job creation the key to more equality.

Bill English says job creation the key to more equality. Photo: RNZ

In his speech to the meeting of business and political leaders on Wednesday, Mr Cunliffe called for New Zealanders in Australia to be given the same benefits as Australians moving to this country.

He said that includes access to student support payments, public disability payments and citizenship.

Mr Cunliffe said Australians moving to New Zealand become permanent residents on arrival, whereas most New Zealanders who migrate to Australia are not accorded the same status.

Speaking from Sydney, Mr English said the Government was pushing as hard as it could to break down barriers.

But he told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the Australian government is in a different situation to New Zealand, where the economic outlook is positive.

"In Australia they've got a lot more concern about where they're going economically and about their government's books and that just means they're less willing and able to make choices that might suit us.

"It doesn't mean we give up, it means we keep working away and making sure they understand our issues so that when the time comes we can give a bit of a shove and get what we're after."

Mr English said the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a key issue at the talks on Wednesday.

He said the Australians agree it is vital the United States works to forge the deal, both for trade purposes and for political reasons.

Mr English says it was agreed the US must show the leadership necessary to get the deal done, and a failure to do so would reduce its status and mana in the Asia-Pacific region.