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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Easier to be Aussie

New Zealand dairy farmers in Australia may find it easier to gain permanent residency and then citizenship thanks to the UDV.

ALEXANDRA BATHMAN June 17, 2014 3:10am

New Zealand dairy farmers in Australia may find it easier to gain permanent residency and then citizenship thanks to the UDV.

The UDV has worked with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to simplify the application process for the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) 888 Visa.

UDV manager Vin Delahunty said the organisation made the changes its priority because there were currently more than 200 former New Zealanders dairy farming in Victoria who had difficulty gaining residency and citizenship.

‘‘Without permanent residency, these farmers who are contributing so much to our communities and have invested significant resources in the economy aren’t able to access citizenship,’’ Mr Delahunty said.

‘‘And by not being citizens they’re excluded from a range of activities the rest of us take for granted. They can’t vote in government elections or access student loans for their children.’’

The struggle has been an ongoing issue in the dairy industry for more than 10 years.

Mooroopna dairy farmers Murray and Sharron Pivac moved to Australia in 2006 and gained Australian residency and citizenship three years ago.

Mr Pivac said the process gave the couple, who milk 650 cows, a huge headache that lasted more than a year.

‘‘When we first went to the migration lawyers we were told we were wasting our time,’’ Mr Pivac said.

‘‘It was heaps of hassle — a lot of the forms, questionnaires and health checks were a waste of time as you felt like you were just repeating yourself.

‘‘If I had come here on a boat I would have had an easier shot.’’

The Pivacs persisted with their application because they wanted an even playing field in the industry.

‘‘If times were tough, the rule is if you’re Australian you’re helped, but if you weren’t you were on your own,’’ Mr Pivac said.

‘‘We also wanted to be able to vote. To have no say in the country you live in — it didn’t feel right.’’

Mr Pivac said the benefits of Australian residency and citizenship was worth the merry-go-round but he knew other farmers who were from New Zealand but working in Australia were put off by the old process and didn’t want to bother trying.

The 888 Visa was put in place in 2012 but had only recently been included on Immigration Department websites.

‘‘Until a few months ago, both the state and federal department websites didn’t even list that New Zealanders were eligible to apply for this program,’’ Mr Delahunty said.

‘‘Now that the correct information is getting out there, we believe it is the time for those New Zealanders who are already a part of our communities to officially become a part of our country.’’

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