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Who the government’s $550 payments forgot

·3-min read
Who the government's $550 payments forgot. Source: Getty
Who the government's $550 payments forgot. Source: Getty

Many Australians who have just lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus are sighing with relief after the introduction of the government’s Coronavirus Supplement - but some who have called Australia home for many years aren’t so lucky.

Those not residentially qualified for social security payments, including temporary visa holders, asylum seekers on bridging visas and New Zealanders on special category visas aren’t qualified for the government’s Coronavirus Supplement.

Vulnerable Kiwis have started a petition seeking 300,000 signatures in a bid to get the government to reinstate full Centrelink support to New Zealand citizens living in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic.

Centrelink support for Kiwis was withdrawn in 2001, unlike New Zealand’s policy which states Australians who are in the country for more than 30 days, and intend to make it their permanent home, can access full support from the Ministry of Social Development.

“There is a relatively small number of Kiwis [650,000] living in Australia who have found themselves suddenly out of work because of the COVID-19 outbreak and consequential shutdowns,” Alax Robinson, founder of the petition stated.

“I myself received a text message on my way to work, telling me that unfortunately I no longer have a job. My Mum is here with me, is high-risk for COVID-19, and now can’t return to New Zealand.

“And I’ve heard from hundreds of Kiwis with heartbreaking stories. People with families, mortgages, and no way to keep going.”

The petition states 650,000 Kiwis have “made Australia their home” and “all contribute to the Australian economy”.

“I’m a NZ citizen but have been living and working in Australia for 12 years and still can’t get my citizenship here,” Victoria Daley, signatory to the petition said. “I’m a flight attendant for Qantas and am still unsure what will be happening with our jobs. I cannot afford to not have a job.”

“New Zealanders have had and will always have our backs. During this crisis I’d say it’s about time we had theirs,” Peta Sykes said.

Jacinda Ardern calls on Aussie government

Ardern confirmed earlier this week she had spoken with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and asked him to support Kiwis during this time.

“I have raised this issue with Prime Minister Morrison. I have specifically sought…a short-term exemption, just for these exceptional circumstances for New Zealanders to be supported, not least because it will encourage compliance at a time when we need everyone to be self-isolating if they had to, for instance,” she said.

It is unclear whether Kiwi sole traders in Australia will be able to access the small business support provided by the government.

The petition has so far garnered more than 200,000 signatures.

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