Australia's major visa changes could open floodgates for Kiwis to migrate across the ditch - commentators

Political commentators say the major policy shift allowing Kiwis to access Australian citizenship and the benefits that come with it is a "win" for New Zealand - but notes the move doesn't come without its benefits for Australia.

The recently announced immigration changes could open the floodgates of much-needed New Zealand workers moving across the ditch.

On Saturday, Australia announced a new direct pathway to citizenship for eligible New Zealanders living in the country for over four years.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the changes are the "biggest improvement" in the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia in a generation.

The changes restore most of the rights Kiwis had in Australia before they were revoked in 2001. Under the current settings, New Zealanders in Australia are granted a temporary visa that allowed them to stay indefinitely but without the rights that come with being a permanent resident or citizen.

Green Party MP and former Auckland mayoral candidate Efeso Collins said the changes are really important for New Zealanders and many will see this move as a "real success story".

"It's really important that you get a sense for both ways, whichever way you are going, you've got a fair kind of adjustment that you can make in either country and I think that this move sets a really good precedent because it means that the relationship is strong," Collins told Rebecca Wright on Newshub Nation's political panel.

But it's not just New Zealanders that will benefit from the policy shift.

Auckland University professor in politics and international relations Jennifer Curtin told the panel the change of policy will profit Australia.

"It is probably going to save Australia a lot of money, for a range of reasons, but also they get to take our workers much more easily in a time when the employment market is very tight," Dr Curtin said.

According to a report by BusinessNZ, New Zealand will be short by 250,000 people by 2048 as our population ages.

The February report found there will be a significant shortfall of people with no post-school qualifications in industries such as education, engineering and health.

Australian companies and government departments have already been targeting Kiwi workers including those in health care and police, to fill their county's staffing crisis.

Manawatū lawyer and political commentator Liam Hehir, who was formerly active in the National Party, said there are "big benefits" to Australia which has a skill shortage just like New Zealand.

"It's certainly a win-win for New Zealanders and Australia, but also for Australians too."

Watch Newshub Nation's full panel above.

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