Covid-19 having a devastating impact on Kiwis in Australia

By Aroha Treacher

Countries are locking down around the world but Australia has yet to implement a complete lockdown. Māori based in Australia say the virus has had a devasting effect on New Zealanders and their jobs.

Australia is in a stage two level lockdown with only essential services and workers in operation.

“We’re just waiting for that next level lockdown,” Danny Heke says, who is an emergency services officer in Bowen Basin, Queensland classed as an essential worker.

“It could be that they either, with us ‘fly in fly out’ workers, stay in situ and work and live in hotels or self-contained accommodation, or they’ll fly us home and shut the mine down,” he says.

“People are still getting out and about and going all over the place when they really shouldn’t,” Gary Harding says, who is based in Melbourne as a cultural advisor in youth justice centres.

“The reason the mines are still open is because it has a massive impact on the economy, and so if mining were to fall over then I’ve got a pretty good feeling the rest of Australia would fall over.”

There are an estimated 650,000 New Zealanders living, working and paying taxes in Australia.

“There are a lot of them that have lost their jobs and aren’t able to get an income and the government is not giving them any assistance,” Harding says.

“We’re one of the lucky ones that are part of essential services and so we still work and still get paid but there’s a lot of people out there struggling,” Heke says.

Its borders are shut but only time will tell whether a full lockdown will be enforced.