An anomaly in Australian laws is preventing New Zealanders who’ve settled in Australia from joining the Australian Defence Force.
Kiwis who entered Australia after February 2001 on Special Category visas – which were introduced to discourage backdoor immigrants by forbidding permanent residence – are unable to meet Defence Force requirements that recruits become Australian citizens.
Australia continues to recruit soldiers from Britain, the United States, Europe and even Kiwis living in New Zealand, offering them a fast-track to citizenship. But those Kiwis who have adopted Australia as their own remain barred.
The policy has got right up the nose of one Kiwi who is determined to serve Australia. Duncan Sandilands, 53, has launched a campaign to change the rules so that he and the estimated five other Kiwis who try to join up every week can have their way. A group of Queensland lawyers are backing his efforts – a campaign that has already cost him $100,000.
Sandilands, whose grandfather served four months in the Gallipoli trenches, is determined to achieve his goal by the 100-year anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign that forged the ANZAC alliance, on Anzac Day 2015.
His struggle started in 2007 when he decided to join the Army Reserve. He had served in the New Zealand Army before moving to Australia so he passed all the tests with flying colours. “And then [I was] told I wasn’t eligible,” he told news.com.