Chris Hipkins, Anthony Albanese hail trans-Tasman friendship after new Australian citizenship pathway


Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the new citizenship agreement with New Zealand is "the way things should always have been", as he meets with his counterpart from across the Tasman today.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Albanese have held a news conference this afternoon after commemorating Anzac Day, attending a citizenship ceremony, and having a barbecue in Brisbane.

The Australian government announced plans this week to ease New Zealanders' pathway to citizenship.

Albanese said the new citizenship agreement was a "common-sense approach".

"True friends have equal relations, and that's the partnership that New Zealand and Australia have."

He said both countries helped each other, with Australia's fires and New Zealand's flooding.

"The people that are first there on the ground are always the Kiwis," Albanese said when Australia faced a crisis.

He said he did not think the new agreement will lead to more people from Aotearoa coming to Australia.

"I think it will just mean they are treated better when they are here."

Hipkins said it was "fundamentally a question of fairness".

"I'm absolutely confident that New Zealanders living and working in New Zealand will want to stay."

Hipkins said it "reset the clock" from the New Zealand side.

"It puts us back into the position we wanted to be in there all along.

"There are a huge range of issues that New Zealand and Australia will continue to work on," Hipkins said, including economic issues and regulatory systems.

Albanese said the thing about the trans-Tasman relationship was that something that was positive in New Zealand was good for Australia, and something that was positive for Australia was good for New Zealand.

Both Hipkins and Albanese mentioned climate change and renewable energy and research as issues both countries have common interests in.

Hipkins said he looked forward to meeting Albanese at future events and that he wanted him to visit New Zealand soon.

"We will make you very, very welcome."

"I look forward to visiting New Zealand," Albanese closed by saying.

Prime ministers Chris Hipkins and Anthony Albanese.
Prime ministers Chris Hipkins and Anthony Albanese. Photo credit: Getty Images

Earlier, Albanese and Hipkins were at a wreath-laying ceremony at Lutwyche Cemetery.

Hipkins had said both of his grandfathers had served in World War II, and he would use the occasion to reflect.

"The lifelong impact that that had on both of my grandfathers is something that I've never underestimated," he said.

On Saturday night, Hipkins attended a gala to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Closer Economic Relations agreement.

The historic free trade agreement, first signed in 1983 but expanded over the years, removed tariffs and quotas, reduced compliance costs for food exporters, and allowed most services to be traded across the Tasman free of restriction.

Hipkins is in Brisbane to mark that anniversary as well as to acknowledge the move by the Australian government to ease New Zealanders' pathway to citizenship.

He was joined by a business delegation for the trip, as well as senior Māori representatives, and the Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O'Connor.