- Kiwis will only need to live in Oz for 4 years to qualify for an easy citizenship application. Time already spent counts.
- There are around 700,000 Kiwis living in Australia today.
- PM Hipkins says this is the biggest change in a generation.
- David Seymour says the policy is designed to incentivise Kiwis to leave NZ.
Oz citizenship prospects greatly improved
New Zealanders already have the right to move to, and work, in Oz. Ditto for Australians moving to NZ. Obtaining citizenship for Kiwis in Oz has been much harder than the other way around, but a big improvement has been announced.
The changes come into effect on July 1, 2023. They will reverse most of what was revoked in a 2001 law change which landed Kiwis in a temporary special category visa. This precluded a number of benefits which people from Aus could qualify for in NZ after 2 years. The changes are part of a pledge made to Jacinda last year.
The policy has been described as “amazing news” by advocacy group Oz Kiwi, who said it would have an “immense impact” on Kiwis living in Australia.
Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, Clare O’Neil, said that New Zealanders in Australia had been treated like “second-class citizens”.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins called the policy shift the biggest improvement in the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia in a generation. Nonetheless, Australians moving to NZ still have an easier path. The changes will benefit about 700,000 New Zealand citizens residing in Oz, plus, of course, any who move there in future. Past time counts and some Kiwi children born there will automatically qualify.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that the direct pathway was a fair change for Kiwis living in Australia, and brings their rights more in line with Australians living in NZ. Yes, but he came up a bit short.
Could there be a negative?
Concerns have been raised this is an attempt by Albanese to encourage NZ to join the Australia-UK-US military pact, or to lure NZ’s best and brightest to Australia – especially with economic conditions becoming a strain on many, especially pensioners and young families.
Hipkins attempted to dispel the idea, saying he doesn’t think it will make a significant difference in Kiwis decision to relocate to Australia.
ACT leader David Seymour criticized NZ Prime Minister saying the Australians had played Him like a didgeridoo. But it seems Australia could unilaterally make this change so that criticism, although amusing, seems unfair. In any event, Seymour believes this move by the Australian government will encourage Kiwis to leave NZ, particularly those in the healthcare and education sectors, industries already suffering from staffing shortages. He may well be right.
Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick agrees Australia is an attractive option for Kiwis due to its higher wages and lower prices. However, Swarbrick suggested New Zealand could use more socialist policy and unionism to keep people from leaving. This may appeal to some but will also have the opposite effect on others.
Albanese says many Kiwis are in Australia on a special category visa while raising families, working, and building their lives, so it is only fair to offer the benefits that citizenship provides.
The new policy was announced by Australia as Chippy left to meet with the Aussie PM on a broader business related trip.