Phil Goff told deputy political editor Jessica Mutch that Kiwis leaving for Australia need to realise they're not entitled to the same benefits as Australians.
PHIL GOFF- Foreign Affairs, Labour
Kiwis are the only people living permanently in Australia who are denied all the rights of permanent residency that everybody else enjoys. They're not entitled to vote. They're not entitled to have their kids born in that country becoming automatically citizens. They're not entitled to the safety-net benefits when something goes wrong in their life, often through no fault of their own. We're not asking the Australians to meet the costs of dole bludgers who go across the Tasman to bludge off their government. I wouldn't support that. We're asking for decent, hard-working people to have the rights that you'd expect to have if you do an honest day's work and you pay your taxes.
In an ideal world, what would you like to see change?
PHIL Well, what I'd like the Australians to do is basically reciprocate what we do for Australians here. Yes, there's a two-year period before you can claim the rights of being a permanent resident. You need to have paid your taxes. But if people are meeting the responsibilities of citizenship, then give them the rights of citizenship.
JESSICA This came in in 2001. Did you oppose it then?
PHIL I spoke out after the legislation had been passed in Australia just to warn of the consequences, the unfairness of somebody who might live for years in Australia, but when they reach a situation that they might fall into through no fault of their own but they're in desperate need, they deserve to have that support. This was not a decision that New Zealand agreed to. We did not reach an agreement on what would happen to people who became single parents, who became unemployed or who became sick. Australia imposed that unilaterally; we chose not to. And they must now bear some responsibility for the decisions they make and the impact that that has had quite unfairly on the lives of people who have worked hard for Australia and honestly paid their taxes.