Q+A March 24, 2013
PANEL DISCUSSIONS: HOSTED BY SUSAN WOOD IN RESPONSE TO JOHN HOWARD INTERVIEW
SUSAN: Interesting. I mean, with the mess, Jon, within Labor there, why isn't Tony Abbott just doing even better?
JON JOHANSSON, Political Scientist, Victoria University: Well, he's Tony Abbott is one reason.
SUSAN: (laughs) Yes. He looks good in a fireman's outfit, you know. Well, he is a fireman. That was a good look for him.
JON: Well, maybe for you, Susan!
SUSAN: No, what I'm meaning is that plays well. He's actually out there fighting the bushfires.
JON: I hear you.
SUSAN: Better than Speedos.
JON: If I could link the issue of the problems in the Labor Party in Australia with the issue of the second-class citizens of New Zealanders, then perhaps Gillard could retrospectively grant Australian citizenship to all New Zealanders living over there, and they might be grateful enough to stop her from the absolute catastrophe she is leading her party towards in this election. I mean, truly, it's going to be a debacle, and we were just saying, I think only the old boys of the fourth Labour Government in New Zealand would have that feeling of affinity for the dynamic, which is "it doesn't matter what we do any more. You know, the people are agin us."
SUSAN: They're done. Are we getting nods here? Are we all agreeing on this? Yeah.
SANDRA LEE, Former Alliance Party Leader: The second-class treatment of New Zealanders in Australia-
SUSAN: Is a disgrace.
SANDRA: …for social support is a disgrace, but Gillard and Key have a fabulous relationship. In fact, Gillard likes our Prime Minister better than half her caucus. So this could be fixed overnight. Why not this year?
SUSAN: Well, there is a product-
SANDRA: 30 years of CER.
SUSAN: Yeah, it is 30 years.
SANDRA: What a great time to throw that bone.
SUSAN: There has been a mutual productivity commission, if you like - the Australians and the New Zealanders getting together. There has been in that some recognition that this is wrong, and they're talking about a new pathway for residency.
STEPHEN FRANKS, Former ACT Party MP: Why is it wrong?
JON: Yeah, I'm with Stephen too.
STEPHEN: I mean, a country-
SUSAN: Because Australians coming here get all the benefits. We go there; we don't. You go and live there for 30 years and pay your taxes and your children are locked out, essentially, of tertiary education and student loans.
STEPHEN: But a country should run its immigration policy and its welfare policy in the interests of that country. They're getting the best at the moment. They're getting people who'll back themselves to be self-reliant when they go to Australia and they're leaving all our slobs here because they can't go straight on to the benefit. So they've got typical pattern-
SANDRA: What a terrible way to put it.
STEPHEN: They've got that typical pattern that most immigrant communities in countries that have sensible welfare policies, and Australia's is quite tough. Typically, immigrant communities have a high labour-participation rate and are more successful than the locals. It's just- If it works, why don't we do it?
SUSAN: Sandra, why do you think it's wrong? Because I…
SANDRA: Look, it's 30 years since CER was knocked out by New Zealand and Australia - Closer Economic Relations, ANZAC tradition and all of that. Our relationship is meant to be far more close than the ordinary immigrant scenario that Stephen's referring to. Used to in place; it should be put back in place. As we say in Māori, tātou tātou. They should give it back.
JON: And I say buyer beware. Know this if you're a New Zealander thinking of going to Australia - that, you know, all those things that are going to be denied you, and if you still want to go, that's your free choice. If it-
SUSAN: Well, you'd be going for residency. You're not going to be sitting on the visa. You're going to get citizenship.
JON: No, you wouldn't be sitting on that special category visa, would you?
JON: And other than that, I mean, it's not slowing New Zealanders going over there. They're not put off by that, are they?
SANDRA: That's because they can't get a home in Auckland.
SUSAN: Although we did see the lowest month in a couple of years, actually - last month, the numbers that came out. So the numbers are slowing.
JON: We'll see how many more months that continues, right?
STEPHEN: I just think again, I wish we had the same policy. It's nuts to bring in people who are going to go on to welfare and create situation where they perpetuate a lifestyle of non-contribution. Australia's got the right idea.