We received written confirmation from NZ of the comparisons, rights, entitlements and pathways between Australian and New Zealand citizens living in each other's countries. A big thank you to Te Ururoa Flavell - NZ Maori Party co-leader, for helping us to obtain clarification and confirmation of this very important information.

Note: There could be a couple of discrepancies we think but possibly just typos. Eg 1st September 1994 (not 1995). We will check these further to ensure the information is as accurate as possible.

Note: This document has been listed twice. Firstly for ease of reading with links. Secondly to see official letter.

Nga mihi,

Iwi n Aus

Parliamentary Library

This information is provided to assist members of Parliament in the fulfilment of their parliamentary responsibilities.


28 March 2014

To: (Office of Maori Party - name with held)

From: (Parliamentary Library - name with held)


He would like to know if he could get some information on the rights given to Australian citizens who come to New Zealand and similarly for rights provided to New Zealand citizens who move to Australia.

 Date of request:

25 March 2014

Table 1 is my attempt to provide a simple table showing the respective entitlements of New Zealanders in Australia and Australians in New Zealand. Due to legislative and policy changes over time a simple table was a reasonably difficult exercise and I have included quite a lot of general explanatory material.

Table 2 shows benefit entitlements in each country. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like anything clarified or added to.


New Zealanders in Australia – background. 2{C}

Table 1: Summary of selected entitlements for each country. 2{C}

Table 2: Social security payments to NZers in Australia. 4{C}

Further details. 5{C}

Citizenship. 5{C}

Status of children – citizenship by birth. 5{C}

Student loans 6{C}

Armed forces 6{C}

Social security. 7{C}

Superannuation. 7{C}

Article. 8{C}

Greens not convinced about social security agreement 8  

New Zealanders in Australia – background

The Australian and New Zealand Governments have had arrangements in place since the 1920s to facilitate a free flow of people between the two countries.

The 1973 Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement has allowed Australian and New Zealand citizens to enter each other's country to visit, live and work, without the need to apply for authority to enter the other country.

Special category visa

Since 1 September 1995 all non-citizens in Australia must hold a visa.

The Special Category visa (SCV) is a temporary visa introduced for New Zealand citizens. When New Zealanders present their valid passport to immigration on entering Australia they are considered to have applied for a visa and, subject to health or character considerations, they are automatically granted an SCV. The visa is recorded electronically.

Changes introduced on 26 February 2001

A new bilateral social security arrangement between Australia and New Zealand was announced on 26 February 2001. This set out arrangements for pension payments, disability support pensions and carer payments to New Zealand citizens in Australia.

Under the agreement each country can also determine access to social security benefits not otherwise covered in the agreement, and each country can set related residence and citizenship rules.

As a result, under the Australian Social Security Act 1991 New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 must apply for and be granted an Australian permanent visa before they can access certain social security payments (eg income support).

New Zealanders must also become permanent visa holders if they want to obtain Australian citizenship or sponsor their family members for a permanent visa.

Source: Fact Sheet 17


Table 1: Summary of selected entitlements for each country


Australians living in New Zealand

New Zealanders living in Australia


Same as for any other nationality. See further details below

Same as for any other nationality. See further details below Citizenship


Usually granted a resident visa on arrival to New Zealand (subject to good character requirement) which allows the holder to remain indefinitely in New Zealand and study or work


Prior to 29 November 2010 Australian citizens were exempt from holding visas for NZ and were allowed to remain here indefinitely

Immigration NZ

Summary of terms

On arrival New Zealanders are granted a Special Category visa (SCV), a type of temporary visa


An Australian resident is a person who is living in Australia and is either:

•an Australian citizen

•a permanent visa holder, or

•a 'protected' Special Category Visa (SCV) holder


Protected SCV holders are those who arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport and:

•were in Australia on 26 February 2001

•were in Australia for 12 months in the two years immediately before this date, or

•were assessed as 'protected' before 26 February 2004


SCV holders who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 are generally considered to be 'non-protected'

Dept of Human Services Residence descriptions

Status of children

Acquire New Zealand citizenship at birth

Department of Internal Affairs

Children born in Australia will automatically acquire Australian citizenship on their 10th birthday if they have lived most of their life in Australia See further details below

DIBP Current citizens Fact Sheet 17


Can enrol in primary, secondary school and tertiary education

Ministry of Education

Tertiary Education Commission

Can enrol in primary, secondary school and tertiary education


Pay domestic fees (rather than the higher international rate) at tertiary institutions but are not eligible for government assistance – see further details below

Australian High Commission

Student allowances

Must be ordinarily resident in New Zealand and, for study beginning in 2014, must have resided here for at least three years

Study Link

Youth allowance – people 16 to 24 years studying full time

Available to Australian residents which includes NZers who entered Australia prior to 26 February 2001

If you entered Australia after 26 February 2001 and have lived in Australia continuously for at least 10 years you may qualify for payment for up to six months

Student loans

 Same conditions as Student allowances

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)

Not currently. Limited changes are expected to come into force from 1 January 2015 – see the details below

Study Assist Fact sheet

Armed forces

Depends on the security clearance level of the role

See further details below

Defence careers

No. Only Australian citizens may join the Australian defence forces

See further details below

Defence jobs

Public service

Appears to be at the discretion of each department

Under the Public Service Act 1999 there is a general expectation that employees will be Australian citizens

Individual departments may waive this requirement depending on the needs and circumstances of the agency (eg a shortage of skills)

Australian Public Service Commission Citizenship in the APS

Public health

Available to Australian citizens and permanent residents who live, or are intending to live, in NZ for 2 years or more

Ministry of Health

Eligible to enrol for Medicare


Residents may vote in New Zealand

Australian citizens only

Table 2: Social security payments to NZers in Australia


(Eligible if they lived in Australia prior to February 2001)

{C}{C}·       {C}Newstart allowance (unemployment benefit)

{C}{C}·       {C}Parenting payment (single and care for child under 8, or have a partner and care for child under 6)

{C}{C}·       {C}Sickness allowance people who temporarily cannot work or study due to sickness or illness

{C}{C}·       {C}Carer allowance (about $120 a fortnight) supplementary payment for person who provide additional daily care for someone with disability or medical condition or who is frail aged

{C}{C}·       {C}Child Disability Assistance Payment (annual lump sum payment) eligibility tied to Carer allowance eligibility

{C}{C}·       {C}Youth allowance

{C}{C}·       {C}Superannuation – see further details below

Temporary payments for up to 6 months may be available for NZers who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 but have lived in Australia for at least 10 years


{C}{C}·       {C}Medicare

{C}{C}·       {C}Baby bonus (replaced 1 March 2014 with a rate increase of Family Tax benefit Part A)

{C}{C}·       {C}Parental Leave Pay financial support for up to 18 weeks for newborns or recently adopted children

{C}{C}·       {C}Dad and partner pay newborns or recently adopted children 2 weeks govt funded pay

{C}{C}·       {C}Family Tax Benefit a two part payment that helps with the cost of raising children

{C}{C}·       {C}Child care benefit helps with child care costs: day care, after school care, pre-school, kindergarten etc

{C}{C}·       {C}Double orphan pension

{C}{C}·       {C}Health care card concessions on health-care costs including prescriptions, eligibility linked to Family Tax Benefit

{C}{C}·       {C}Commonwealth Seniors health card cheaper prescription medicines for older Australians

Dept of Human Services NZ citizens 

Further details


New Zealanders in Australia

Post-2001 New Zealanders in Australia are required to apply for and be granted permanent residence in Australia if they wish to go on to obtain Australian citizenship. Prior to 2001 the NZers were eligible to apply for citizenship.

It appears that, in order to be granted permanent residence a person needs to be considered a skilled migrant. A 2011 Australian Department of Immigration paper notes that “New Zealanders who arrived after [2001] have a restricted pathway to permanent residence and citizenship, as most would fail to meet the requirements for family reunion or skilled migration”.

The views expressed in the article “New Zealanders call for fairer treatmentThe Herald (Australia) 27 February 2014 are that New Zealanders “can never become citizens”.

Pathways to permanent residency

Australians in New Zealand

To be eligible for New Zealand citizenship a person (of any nationality) must be entitled to be in New Zealand indefinitely.

For most nationalities this would mean applying for and being granted a permanent resident visa, that is, (and exceptions always apply) they would need to be assessed as a skilled migrant.

Australians in New Zealand are entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely. In effect, I believe that this means that an Australian would not need to meet a skills requirement for citizenship in New Zealand, while a New Zealander in Australia does have to meet a skills requirement. This is something that I could check with the Department of Internal Affairs or Immigration for you.

All applicants for citizenship need to meet various other requirements such as having been present in New Zealand for a certain number of days in the previous 5 years, and good character requirements etc.

Department of Internal Affairs

Status of children – citizenship by birth

New Zealanders in Australia (Assuming both parents are New Zealanders)

Automatic acquisition of citizenship on 10th birthday

A child born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 who did not acquire Australian citizenship at birth automatically acquires it on their 10th birthday if they have been residing in Australia since their birth. This provision operates regardless of the parents’ immigration or citizenship status.

The status of children born in Australia to parents who are New Zealanders has varied over the years:

20 August 1986 to 31 August 1994

Like their parents, these children were considered ‘exempt non-citizens’. There were not required to hold an entry permit and were regarded as a permanent resident for the period of time they spent in Australia prior to 1 September 1994.

1 September 1994 to 26 February 2001

A child born in Australia between 1 September 1994 and 26 February 2001, to a New Zealand citizen parent who held an SCV or a permanent visa is an Australian citizen by birth.

From 27 February 2001

A child born in Australia on or after 27 February 2001 to a New Zealand citizen parent is not an Australian citizen by birth unless the New Zealand citizen parent:

{C}{C}·       {C}held an Australian permanent visa

{C}{C}·       {C}was a dual Australian-New Zealand citizen

{C}{C}·       {C}was covered by the transitional arrangements for the 26 February 2001 changes.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection: Fact Sheet 17

Student loans

New Zealanders in Australia

New Zealanders living in Australia cannot currently access the student loan system (HELP).

Currently, New Zealanders can access “Commonwealth supported places” in higher education (public universities and some private providers in ‘priority’ areas such as nursing) and government-subsidised places in vocational education and training in some states. Under the Commonwealth supported places scheme the Australian government pays part of the fees, the student the remainder of the fees. Places are not guaranteed.

Children born to NZ SCV holders may become Australian citizens at age 10 providing they have been resident in Australia since their birth. They should be able to access HELP loans when they go on to tertiary education.

Changes from 1 January 2015 will allow certain New Zealand SCV holders to access HELP loans, providing you:

{C}{C}·       {C}first entered Australia as a dependent minor aged under 18 years of age;

{C}{C}·       {C}have been ordinarily resident in Australia for the previous 10 years (that is, you have been physically present in Australia for at least eight out of the past 10 years) and for 18 months out of the last two years at the time of application for the loan; and

{C}{C}·       {C}are otherwise eligible for the loan (see www.studyassist.gov.au for information about eligibility).

The changes are subject to amendments being made to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and are proposed to take effect from 1 January 2015.

Source: Study Assist Commonwealth supported places Study Assist Fact sheet

Armed forces

New Zealanders in Australia

Generally speaking only Australian citizens are eligible for careers in the Australian Defence forces.

Limited exceptions for foreign nationals

Certain waivers are obtainable for permanent residents of Australia in exceptional circumstances in roles that cannot be filled by citizens. The NZ SCV is a temporary visa although NZers in Australia prior to 26 February 2001 are considered to hold permanent residency.

It is possible for foreign nationals with military experience to be sponsored by the Australian Army, Navy or Air Force for a role.

Source: Defence jobs

Australians in New Zealand

In New Zealand this depends on the security level of the role. Roles with the lowest security clearance requirements are open to New Zealand citizens, residents and permanent residents, subject to security clearance. Higher security roles prefer New Zealand citizens.

Source: Defence careers

Social security

New Zealanders in Australia

See Table 2

Disability payments are covered by the Australia New Zealand social security agreement:

New Zealand Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) and Australian Disability Support Pension (for the severely disabled)

In order to qualify for either of these benefits under the Agreement you must meet the criteria for either New Zealand Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) or Australian Disability Support Pension and you must also be assessed as “severely disabled”.

“Severely disabled” means:

{C}{C}·       {C}{C}you must be permanently blind or

{C}{C}·       {C}{C}you must have a physical, psychiatric or intellectual impairment that makes you totally unable to work or benefit from any assistance or rehabilitation programme for the next two years, and

{C}{C}·       {C}{C}the severe disablement must have occurred while you were resident in either New Zealand or Australia.

All references to New Zealand Supported Living Payment (health condition, injury, disability or totally blind) and Australian Disability Support Pension in this document require that you meet the “severely disabled” criteria.

            Work and Income

Returning to New Zealand

A New Zealander returning to New Zealand from Australia might be ineligible for the main benefits  on their return where there is a requirement to have lived in New Zealand for two years prior to applying (eg job seeker support, sole parent support).

Whether or not they are eligible for an Emergency benefit is at the discretion of WINZ.

Although it is obviously very out of date now, a 2001 article copied below expresses concern on this point (“Greens not convinced about social security agreement”).

Australians in New Zealand

Generally there are four residency requirements for most New Zealand benefits:

{C}·       {C}being lawfully resident

{C}·       {C}present in the country

{C}·       {C}being ordinarily resident in NZ

{C}·       {C}must have spent a period of time in New Zealand

Australians living permanently in New Zealand would therefore most likely qualify for most New Zealand benefits. They would probably need to have lived in New Zealand for two years to qualify although the period of time may differ depending on the benefit.

WINZ Residency requirements


The social security arrangement between New Zealand and Australia should allow a New Zealander living in Australia access to the Australian Age Pension. They may end up with partial payments from each Government, as they would be assessed on the length of time they spent in each country. Generally this would equal the amount of pension a person would have received if they had lived their entire life in one country.

The social security arrangement covers these Australian benefits: Age pension, Disability Support Pensions (severely disabled) and Carer payment (for partners of recipients of Disability Support Pension) and these New Zealand benefits: New Zealand Superannuation, Veterans Pension and Invalids Benefit (for the severely disabled) including married rates of Invalids Benefit.

The details of the social security arrangement are available from Australia’s Department of Social Services: Australia and New Zealand Frequently asked question


Greens not convinced about social security agreement


Green Party support for the new social security agreement with Australia is in doubt over a clause MP Sue Bradford says reduces widows and sole parents to a form of "second-class citizenship".

Under the clause, New Zealanders in Australia who are widowed or become sole parents while in Australia, or who have children born in Australia, are not eligible for a widow's or domestic purposes benefit (DPB) should they return home.

Nor are they eligible for Australian benefits unless they have become Australian citizens.

The agreement, jointly announced on Monday by Prime Minister Helen Clark and her Australian counterpart John Howard, means Kiwis crossing the Tasman will need to gain permanent residency before they can claim many benefits, including the dole.

It affects most Kiwis arriving in Australia from Monday, although the agreement is not expected to officially come into force until July 1.

Ms Bradford was not satisfied with Miss Clark's explanation during question time that those affected by the widows and sole parents clause could go onto an emergency benefit at the same rate as the DPB.

"Despite the Prime Minister's reassurances in the House this afternoon that such people will be entitled to emergency assistance, I believe it is unacceptable to reduce such people, often in tragic circumstances, to a form of second-class citizenship should they choose to return home," Ms Bradford said during a snap debate.

"Emergency benefits are never a satisfactory long-term proposition for people bringing up children on their own."

Ms Bradford would do everything possible to ensure a "more humane and equitable outcome", she said.

"I would say that unless this issue is satisfactorily resolved, we wouldn't be giving our support in the enabling legislation," she later said.

However, that might not be a concern to the Government, given that the legislation related only to changes needed to data sharing between Customs and the Department of Work and Income for superannuation arrangements between the two countries.

The actual agreement was signed on Monday.

Opposition leader Jenny Shipley also slammed the widows and sole parents clause, labelling it an "absolute disgrace".

"Grieving widows will be sent back to New Zealand, they'll have to beg their families for money because there's no money to help them travel, and then they'll get home and (be told) that 'if your partner didn't die while you were in New Zealand, you're not eligible'," she said.

"If you're unlucky enough to have a spouse die ... if you have no dependent children, or if your children were born outside New Zealand, you will only qualify for widow's benefit or Domestic Purposes Benefit if you became a widow or sole parent while in New Zealand."

The clause was an outrage, and New Zealanders needed to realise the extent to which the Government had altered an important historical relationship with Australia, Mrs Shipley said.

New Zealand has been paying about $169 million a year to reimburse Australia for the social security costs of New Zealanders living across the Tasman but Australia estimates the welfare burden at $A930 million ($NZ1.1 billion).

Under the new agreement, superannuation, veterans and some disablement benefits will still be paid to New Zealanders who shift to Australia but they will have to gain permanent residency on the same terms as other immigrants to gain access to other welfare payments.

Miss Clark and Mr Howard presented the agreement as a "win-win" situation.

"This will represent a saving over the next three years of around $100 million to the New Zealand taxpayer," Miss Clark said.

A cabinet paper leaked to NZPA last year said that Australia estimated half the current annual flow of about 40,000 migrants might not qualify for permanent residence due to insufficient or inappropriate skills, health problems, quota restrictions and other reasons.

Social Services Minister Steve Maharey said benefit entitlements for domestic purposes and widows beneficiaries had not changed as a result of the agreement.

He said the entitlements were set out in local law and this had not been altered.

"Domestic purposes beneficiaries continue to be eligible to receive income assistance provided they have resided in New Zealand for 10 years at some point in their life. For example, if a mother left New Zealand at 10 years of age she would qualify for DPB on return to New Zealand.

The eligibility for widowed beneficiaries without children was also unchanged.

"The 1964 Social Security Act requirements continue to include the widow and her husband being resident in New Zealand at the date of the husband's death or only temporarily absent," Mr Maharey said.

Supplied by New Zealand Newspapers Association

© Independent Newspapers Limited 2001, All rights reserved.