Australia 'lagging way behind' New Zealand - Peter Fitzsimons

Renowned Australian media personality Peter Fitzsimons says New Zealand has leaped ahead of Australia in a number of key areas, making us looking like "sophisticates" in comparison.

The former Wallaby wrote an opinion piece for Fairfax on Monday night, condemning Australia for failing to lead the way as a progressive nation - and claiming they'd been eclipsed by Aotearoa in the process.

Speaking to RadioLIVE's Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury, Fitzsimons said the appointment of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister was one that brought great hope, but has as of yet failed to deliver.

"We looked with great expectations when he took over as Prime Minister," he said, citing Mr Turnbull's zeal for an Australian republic earlier in his career.

"Things like same-sex marriage, things like movement on climate change and refugees - it's an absolute no-brainer, and you expect Malcolm Turnbull to do that.

"[But] we've had three fifths of nothing... what a palaver we've gone through."

Fitzsimons says when Australians look over at New Zealand, they're impressed to see us championing indigenous rights, creating policy that will have a genuine influence on climate change, and electing a young female Prime Minister in the form of Labour's Jacinda Ardern.

"Many people like me look to New Zealand and say, 'Hang on, hang on, they're meant to be the local yokels and we're meant to be the sophisticates with the lattes and a swig of lemon - why do they look like 2035, and we look like 2005?'

"We're lagging way behind. We have very strong right-wing commentators that, if any ideas post-1952 get attacked, say 'How dare they?'

"I think it's fair to say in your country, you don't really have those loud voices… that vitriolic talkback culture."

Fitzsimons says New Zealand has "leapt forward" in regards to issues pertaining to gay marriage and global warming - and even with our flag referendum, which he believes proved we weren't happy with the Union Jack remaining a symbol of our nation.

But he did say there was one way we had slipped behind the Australians.

"I'll remind you that we won the last Bledisloe [Test match], and so that makes us the incumbent holders, not of the [Bledisloe] Cup, but certainly we're the moral victors," he joked.

"We smoked ya, we poked ya, we rolled you up and toked ya."