Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Social Security changes for Kiwi immigrants

New Zealanders migrating to Australia after 1 February 2000 will have to wait two years before they are eligible for most social security payments, including Newstart Allowance, following recent changes to legislation.

Federal Minister for Community Services, Mr Larry Anthony today announced the change that will see New Zealand migrants having the same two-year waiting period as other migrants who move to Australia.

“People migrating from countries other than New Zealand have been subject to the two-year rule since early 1997, so the change announced in the 1998 Budget was inevitable,” Mr Anthony said.

“However, the change does not affect long-term income support payments such as age and disability pensions which are covered by the Social Security Agreement with New Zealand.

“Although people will have to wait two years before receiving most social security payments, families with children who migrate to Australia may qualify immediately for Family Allowance which has no waiting period.”

Mr Anthony said that the change would not affect people from New Zealand already living in Australia on 1 February 2000.

Tightening of general rules means that although the two-year period can be made up of a number of shorter periods, only time actually spent living in Australia (excluding holidays) will count.

“The key message for migrants wanting to make Australia their home is to plan and prepare before they leave,” Mr Anthony said. “To help them, Centrelink has an extensive publicity campaign in place to tell prospective New Zealand immigrants about the change.

“Leaflets and posters will be distributed in New Zealand through travel agents, airlines, passport offices and other relevant organisations, while an estimated 400,000 Kiwis already living in Australia are also targeted in the campaign.

“The most important aspect of this change is that it now means all people migrating to Australia from around the world are being treated equally,” Mr Anthony said.