Ex-pat Kiwi Russell Crowe has been asked to deliver a gladiatorial blow to Australia’s hard line stance on Kiwi expats living in Australia in order to provide fairer treatment.
As one of New Zealand’s highest-profile ‘Australians’, (Crowe was born in Island Bay, Wellington), the Oscar-winning actor has been requested to lend his weight to a campaign to take legal action in respect of discriminatory laws in Australia that are seen as unfairly treating New Zealand expats living there.
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Rights campaigner David Faulkner of Sydney says it’s time to switch from lobbying politicians to fighting in court and called on the Gladiator star to back the push for fairer citizenship laws.
Crowe regards his own situation as “very odd” given his face appears on a postage stamp in Australia despite not having citizenship in the country he’s called home for most of his life.
It’s an unfair situation that burdens … 250,000 New ZealandersRussell Crowe
“The reason that I talk about it, is not because I couldn’t do, you know, a nudge-nudge, wink-wink deal,” Crowe told the Huffington Post.
“I’m just not that guy, because it’s unfair. It’s an unfair situation that burdens … 250,000 New Zealanders who have made a life in Australia.
“And that’s why I bring it up. Because sooner or later, somebody will come along and say, ‘This is actually completely unfair and we need to change it’, but if I do the nudge-nudge, wink-wink, then I’m bailing on 250,000 other people.”
Two years ago Crowe decried Australian treatment of those on Manus Island, telling Huffington Post he was prepared to house seven asylum-seekers held on the island.
His tweets on the topic hardly held back –
Russell Crowe & Faulkner
Faulkner seized on that, posting online a quote from Crowe and picture of him as Maximus in the Oscar-winning movie Gladiator, to gauge interest in a class action.
“We had an overwhelming response of more than 500 individuals, in an evening, saying that they would be willing to join in,” said Faulkner.
He has spoken with leading class action law firm Maurice Blackburn. The firm would not comment.
Faulkner concedes it would be an uphill battle but there is a precedent in the famous Mabo land decision for grassroots action to nullify unfair laws. He hopes it is a cause that Crowe would consider supporting.
Lawyer Faulkner has long been a strong supporter of New Zealander’s facing discrimination in Australia, as well as assisting others facing such issues.
In 2015 he told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that Kiwis – particularly those from Maori or Pacific Island backgrounds – lived in legal limbo but were in a good position to mount a legal challenge.
“There has been a history of exclusion of Pacific Islanders in Australia prior to the 1970s Free Movement Agreement,” he said.
“It has been suggested that of course it is an attempt to discourage Pacific Islanders to come to Australia … that was one of the motivating factors behind the 2001 changes.
“There’s overwhelming statistical evidence now of indirect discrimination happening and that’s the first leg of a [legal] case.”
Around 250,000 New Zealand citizens have arrived in Australia since 2001.