Australia's #citizenship7 and a new NZ government - Could this bring about the change we have be
Immigration is an incredibly complex and complicated area of law in Australia.
Recently, we've seen the issue of #citizenship7, where even the highest ranking politician's have had the rug pulled out from under their feet, due to their immigration status.
Meanwhile, the plea for fairer immigration laws, that don't catch everyday people out by surprise, has gone by largely unheard or ignored.
One group in particular is New Zealand passport holders.
For whatever reason, Kiwis are a group of people who have struggled to have their issues heard, understood or even acknowledged. As a result, many have been falling through the cracks, since 2001.
After the #citizenship7 debacle, one can only hope there will be an inroad to bringing these issues to the table. Here's a brief overview:
Allowing a group of people to:
live and work indefinitely and permanently
be entitled to medicare
contribute to the wider community,
yet not afford some sort of realistic pathway to becoming a citizen seems very odd, to say the least.
It's difficult to comprehend how anyone in their right mind could defend such practices.
On another note, there has also been ongoing debate about whether citizenship is regarded as a privilege and/or a right.
Either way, what aspects would one expect in order to earn it?
Have permission to legally reside, permanently?
Have permission to legally work?
Be law abiding?
Pay full taxes?
Speak fluent English?
Reside for 'x' amount of years?
Qualify for medicare?
Contribute to communities and broader society?
Be born in Australia?
Be raised from a minor/infant in Australia?
Have direct Australian family members?
Have Australian children?
Be married to an Australian?
Have no family members outside Australia?
Tens of thousands of New Zealanders are doing these things already, nevertheless, are disqualified and precluded from accessing citizenship.
Surely, this would mean a loss for political representatives across Australia since many of their constituents are unable to vote? Imagine running for your electorate in a densely populated Kiwi area such as Logan, Brisbane or Werribee, Melbourne?
But one might ask, how could such practices be possible in a democratic nation?
On the 1st of September 1994, the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) was introduced. It became mandatory that every resident in Australia hold a visa. At this point, and without any notification or educational process, New Zealanders were all placed onto the Special Category Visa TY-444. Including all those who had been living in Australia prior to that date, such as, Russell Crowe who had been living here since 1968.
The SCV TY-444 by legal definition is a temporary visa.
The affects of this change has gone by undetected for decades. It has only been felt more-so since further amendments were made to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). These changes make it much easier to cancel both visas and temporary visas.
Studying Migration Law and Practice, has taught me that Migration Law is not an easy subject to grasp. It is the most amended law in Australia, continuously changing.
Experts in the migration field have voiced their concerns and at times, struggle themselves to keep up with the frequent changes. So, if that's the case, what hope does everyday people have of understanding how they might be affected?
As the #citizenship7 politicians have said, they had no idea of their status. But therein lies a big problem. People assume certain things but when it comes to Migration Law, unless you are an expert, how could anyone possibly know? Same goes for the issue of New Zealanders.
Derryn Hinch said in 2014 that Kiwis needed to "Quit their bitchin' " but what he failed to recognise was he was just lucky he migrated before the laws had changed.
Let's hope that with the sudden upheaval and changes to both governments they will begin to talk some sense and make appropriate changes, not just for high ranking politicians, but also for all the hard working taxpayers who pay their salaries.