Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement

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The Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement is an informal agreement between Australia and New Zealand which allows for the free movement of citizens of one of these nations to the other. The arrangement came into effect in 1973, and allows citizens of each country to live and work in the other country, with some restrictions. Other details of the arrangement have varied over time.

Treaty history[edit]

The arrangement was announced on 4 February 1973 and came into effect soon after. Although the exact nature of the arrangement has been varied from time to time, it still allows citizens of Australia or New Zealand to live in each other's nation indefinitely and take on most employment. New Zealand citizens who are not also Australian citizens may not work in Australia in areas involving national security or in the Australian Public Service.

Prior to 1973, neither New Zealand nor Australia exercised systematic control over immigration from the main Commonwealth nations (principally the United Kingdom and Canada), and New Zealanders and Australians were thus free to move between each country under informal arrangements.

As a result of higher wages and the greater economic market in Australia the vast majority of trans-Tasman migration is from New Zealand to Australia.[1][2]

Unemployment issues[edit]

Originally, New Zealand citizens arriving in Australia were entitled to unemployment benefits immediately on arrival in Australia. Similarly, Australian citizens were entitled to social security benefits in New Zealand. During the 1980s and 1990s, this became a hotly debated political issue. Starting in 1986, New Zealand citizens were required to be resident in Australia for six months before receiving benefits, and in 2000, New Zealand citizens were required to reside in Australia for two years before they can receive payments. This is also the case for Australian citizens residing in New Zealand.[3] However, this has been restricted further in 26 February 2001 and a New Zealand citizen must apply for and be granted a formal Australian permanent visa to obtain certain social security benefits not covered by the bilateral Social Security Agreement in 2001.

Australian permanent visa holders[edit]

  • "People who hold current Australian permanent residence visas or current Australian resident return visas may be granted residence permits on arrival in New Zealand, provided they have not been excluded under section 7 of the Immigration Act 1987."[4]

Legislative amendments[edit]

In 2001, Australian legislation classified New Zealanders living in Australia into two categories: those who were resident in Australia on 26 February 2001 (Protected Special Category Visas), and those who arrived in Australia after that date (Special Category Visa).

Those who were resident before or on 26 February 2001 may claim unemployment benefits as they are protected Special Category Visa holders under the Social Security Act. New Zealanders who arrive in Australia after 26 February 2001 are not entitled to most social security payments, despite being able to live indefinitely in Australia.

They may qualify for benefits after applying to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship for a permanent visa and serving the two-year newly arrived resident waiting period.

While this still allowed the freedom to live and work indefinitely in Australia, it restricted access to certain privileges of holding a formal Australian permanent visa, such as access to certain social security payments and the ability to apply for naturalisation as an Australian citizen after a sufficient period of residence.


External links[edit]

Related reading