Leader of Reason and Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region, Fiona Patten, has called on the federal government to extend Centrelink benefits to New Zealanders in Australia for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are over 90,000 Kiwis living in Victoria.
“Thousands of Kiwi-Victorians lost their jobs this week, and we are making people choose between their community and their ability to eat,” said Ms Patten.
We shouldn’t be forcing thousands of hardworking Victorian taxpayers to the wall simply because they hold New Zealand citizenship.”
“Their country is in lock-down, and they will have to self-isolate for 14 days, if they have no support base, where will they live? How many will be forced into homelessness?”
Australians in New Zealand are eligible for welfare payments, but in 2001 the Howard Government cut many of the benefits available to New Zealanders in Australia.
“What we need to do to get through this is decency and kindness, Jacinda Ardern has not turned her back on Aussies and Scott Morrison should not turn his back on Kiwis” said Ms Patten.
The economic shutdown has forced many people into unemployment. Riza, 27, is a Kiwi who has been living and working in Australia for three years.
“If I were to go back home, I would have to start again,” said Riza.
“I have no friends or support network there, but I might not have any other choice. My whole life is in Australia, it’s just not that easy to get up and leave.”
The Northern Metro MP has called on the Victorian Premier to advocate on behalf of Victoria’s New Zealand population.
“Dan Andrews has been terrific in this crisis but he needs to step up for New Zealanders, who are an important part of our state, and demand an extension of welfare,” Ms Patten said.
“We could lose thousands of creative, hardworking people. It would be economic & social self-harm that would take Victoria a long time to recover from.”
As of Tuesday morning, 100,000 people had signed a Change.org petition calling on the government to extend Centrelink to New Zealanders.
“’Go home or starve’ is not in the ANZAC spirit,” added Ms Patten.
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To organise an interview with Fiona Patten, please phone Patrick Hargreaves directly.