David Seymour says Australian Government played PM Chris Hipkins like a 'didgeridoo' with citizenship deal

ACT leader David Seymour is hitting out at the Prime Minister saying he has been played like a "didgeridoo" by the Australian Government.

On Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the historic decision to make citizenship for Kiwis easier, correcting two decades of pain. It means in a few months, Kiwis living in Australia for over four years will be able to go straight to citizenship without needing to be a resident.

Chris Hipkins revealed the deal alongside Albanese saying the changes are "fundamentally a question of fairness".

But it has raised concerns it might encourage Kiwis in New Zealand's already understaffed sectors, such as healthcare and education, to ditch Aotearoa for better wages in Australia. 

The average wage in New Zealand is $77,844 a year compared with $102,500 across the ditch - making Australia an attractive option for Kiwis who are struggling with the current cost of living crisis. 

While both Hipkins and Albanese deny this is the case, ACT leader David Seymour told AM on Monday that's exactly what's going to happen. 

"Actually we just got played by the Aussies. The Aussie Government played Hipkins like a didgeridoo," Seymour told AM host Ryan Bridge. 

"They have just done a raid on New Zealand talent, including many of your viewers apparently, and Hipkins is over there smiling and saying how wonderful it all is. In fact, he is trying to say it's one of the Labour Government's most substantial achievements which is helping New Zealanders live in another country. 

"What's more, it wasn't even his decision, it was the Australian Government's decision. We should have a Prime Minister who is saying, 'Look we understand the Australians are doing this but here's how we're going to boost productivity in New Zealand'. He's not doing that, he's over there getting played like a didgeridoo."

Appearing alongside Seymour on AM, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick said there's no denying Australia is an attractive option for Kiwis. But Swarbrick said there are changes New Zealand can make to keep Kiwis here. 

"We do have the potential here in Aotearoa New Zealand to really take control of all those variables and really ensure that everybody has what they need to live their best possible life."

Swarbrick said we need to fix massive and long-term under-investment in our public infrastructure such as housing and healthcare. She also pointed out Australia has a Capital Gains Tax, higher tax rates, fair pay agreements and higher unionisation. 

But Seymour disputed this pointing out more New Zealanders are part of a union than Australians. 

Despite disagreeing about the solution, both Seymour and Swarbrick agreed productivity plays a part in Australia's higher wages. 

Seymour believes the solution to improving New Zealand's productivity woes is better education. 

"We need to have an education system that says these are the community agreed goals that kids must learn and a government that is committed to measuring those things and then treats the profession with some respect and actually lets them run things their way to achieve the goals," he said. 

Meanwhile, Swarbrick said it's important to inspect what New Zealand's economy is and who it's for. 

"So the economy is all of us and it's the stuff we create. It's not this deity that we are supposed to sacrifice to when it's angry," she said. "If you look at the economic policy that has been employed throughout COVID-19, we've had this kind of pretence that the things the RBNZ does are happening in a vacuum and not at all impacted by fiscal policy, the stuff the government does. 

"That is untrue and the unconventional monetary policy that was employed in that vacuum saw the trillion-dollar wealth transfer to the wealthiest. And now that we are in the process of recovery, rebuild and high inflation, we are seeing a situation where RBNZ confirmed… that they are manufacturing a recession, essentially expecting poorer New Zealanders to pay for that recovery when they are also effectively the ones who paid for us to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. And that's fundamentally unfair."

Swarbrick also said poverty is a massive deterrent to productivity and general well-being.