Aust PM: New citizenship 'pathway' for Kiwis

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Newshub / Patrick Gower)
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Newshub / Patrick Gower)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that Kiwis who have been living across the ditch for five or more years will soon have a pathway to becoming Australian citizens.

At the moment, because of the special visa category most New Zealanders move to Australia under, they are excluded from applying for citizenship and are unable to access a number of social services like welfare benefits and disability support.

Under the new agreement, New Zealanders wanting to apply for Australian citizenship will have to meet certain income thresholds and other criteria.

Mr Turnbull made the announcement at a joint press conference with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key following their formal talks in Sydney this morning.

Aust PM: New citizenship 'pathway' for Kiwis

Mr Key had been "ever hopeful" progress would be made on improving the situation for Kiwis living in Australia.

He told reporters before the meeting he believed both New Zealand and Australia were on solid grounds to discuss some policy settings which were "unfair".

Prior to the announcement, Kiwis had been excluded from applying for citizenship, meaning many New Zealanders who had spent a long time living in Australia had been caught out by tough new immigration laws.

The law also meant any non-citizen who has served a prison sentence of 12 months or more can have their visa cancelled.

Alongside the newly announced citizenship pathway, Mr Turnbull also divulged his discussion with Mr Key over Australia's treatment of deportees.

Mr Turnbull says the country's deportation laws should apply indiscriminately to any non-Australian.

"Our law applies to people from every country, it's not specific to New Zealand, and the law applies to you whether you are New Zealander or Greek or Romanian or American or whatever you may be."

He says those Kiwi individuals who have had their visas revoked are allowed to appeal the decision -- albeit from New Zealand.

"The people whose visas have been revoked in accordance with the legislation are able to appeal and, as you know, as a consequence of my discussions with John [Key] last year, we've made it crystal clear that people who are deported can pursue their appeals from New Zealand.

"There have been actually quite a number of these appeals, about 50 percent of the appeals, have been successful, so you can see the policy is being administered in a very thoughtful and practical way."

He says Kiwis should be accepting that it is not targeted at them out of spite, and good laws should be universal.

"It applies to everyone; it's not targeted at New Zealand. I know it may look like that from the perspective of across the Tasman, but it applies to every country in the world and it is a law -- and like all good laws it should apply universally."

Newshub. / NZN