Australia makes major immigration announcement to improve New Zealanders' rights

Australia's government has put a sudden pause on New Zealand visa applications for six months.

It's a major move towards giving Kiwis back traditional rights on Australian soil that were stripped away by a law change in 2001.

After Anthony Albanese came into power in May he promised to reverse the law, giving Kiwis an easier pathway to citizenship that would allow them to vote and have better access to social welfare.

More than 600,000 New Zealanders live across the Tasman, with a growing number of them forced to live on the streets due to the lack of support.

A spokesperson for Australia's Home Affairs Minister said it will be streamlining the current 189 visas in the queue and putting a pause on future applications to "avoid disappointment".

"As flagged by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in July, the Australian government is looking at how we can improve pathways to residency and citizenship for New Zealanders who live in Australia."

It takes effect from Saturday until July 1 2023.

Changes are being reviewed at the moment with an announcement expected on ANZAC Day next year.

Other changes made today will also allow skilled workers from New Zealand moving from a temporary to permanent residence status to support Australia's COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealanders will now be exempt from meeting certain residence and income thresholds as well as health criteria.

"These changes are about recognising the unique and enduring close ties between New Zealand and Australia."