Coronavirus: New Zealanders living in Australia start petition calling for benefit eligibility amid COVID-19 crisis

New Zealanders living in Australia have started a petition calling for benefit eligibility amid the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis.

More than 43,000 people have signed a petition to Australia Government Services Minister Stuart Robert, which says "this outbreak has turned the world upside down".

Those Kiwis who arrived in Australia after February 2001 are not entitled to the benefit and instead are known as "non-protected special category visa-holders".

The petition says that should change amid the crisis.

"Many of us choose Australia as our home and have worked here for years paying full tax and making contributions for this safety net dispute not being allowed to have any or only limited access to it.

"It's simply not practical for many of us to simply pack up and go back to New Zealand because our homes and families are now here in Australia.

"All we are asking for is the right to access the safety net that we already contribute to with the taxes we pay here, like every other Australian.

"Now more then ever we are vulnerable from the situation that is 100 percent out of our control please show some compassion and unlock Centrelink for New Zealand citizens," the petition says.

One woman who signed the petition said she couldn't afford not to have a job.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo credit: Getty

"I'm signing because I'm an NZ citizen but have been living and working in Australia for 12 years and still can't get my citizenship here," she wrote.

"I have bills to pay and no support from the Australian government."

Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for Oz Kiwi, said last week she believed the majority of Kiwis living across the ditch would be ineligible for welfare.

"People have contacted us. We've just been saying to them, contact the New Zealand High Commission, MFAT, Centrelink and WINZ to see what they're eligible for," she told Radio New Zealand.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said its Government would spend an additional AU$66.4 billion as part of a second stimulus package to shelter the economy from the financial impact of the coronavirus,

"We will be focusing on those in the front line, those who will be feeling the first blows of the economic impact of the coronavirus," Morrison said in Canberra on Sunday. 

"There will be more packages and more support."

Qantas, one of Australia's largest employers, last week said it would put 20,000 employees on leave as the virus had devastated the airline industry with scores of countries closing their borders.

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