8 Jul 2022

Rights of New Zealanders living in Australia to be reviewed - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

3:23 pm on 8 July 2022

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has committed to reviewing the rights of New Zealanders living in that country, including the path to citizenship, by Anzac day next year.

New Zealand and Australia's prime ministers Jacinda Ardern and Anthony Albanese announce plans to deepen relationships between the two countries, and improve access to citizenship. (8 July 2022)

New Zealand and Australia's prime ministers Jacinda Ardern and Anthony Albanese announce plans to deepen relationships between the two countries, and improve access to citizenship. (8 July 2022) Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Top ministers from the two countries will also meet every year to work together on trans-Tasman and regional matters, including on climate change.

Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the moves after the annual bilateral leadership meeting in Sydney today.

He repeated previous statements that the 501s policy would remain in place and people would continue to be deported, but signalled work assessing how to give New Zealanders living in Australia an easier pathway to Australian citizenship would be complete by 25 April 2023.

It would also include considering whether New Zealanders in Australia could be given voting rights, saying it was a "common sense position to at least examine".

"When you have a circumstance where someone has lived their entire life, effectively, in Australia with no connection whatsoever to New Zealand, then common sense should apply and we'll act as firends and we'll work through those issues in a common sense way," he said.

"We don't want people to be temporary residents forever ... we think those pathways and working through these issues so that people get more rights that are more consistent - whether it be Australians that have moved to New Zealand or New Zealanders moving to Australia.

"We'll be asking the joint standing committee on electoral matters to consider whether there's a way to return to systems that have existed in the past of giving New Zealand people who are here in Australia - contributing to society, paying taxes, working - voting rights here in Australia as well."

Ardern said today's meeting had been a "very fruitful discussion on all accounts".

New Zealand had long argued its migrants were Australia's best, based at least in part on the amount of tax paid.

"Our ask has been for there to be a greater acknowledgement of the role that New Zealanders play here in Australia ... agreement that no New Zealander or Australian should be rendered permanently temporary.

"That is a step change in the way that we've previously seen New Zealanders treated here. If you look at the census New Zealanders tend to translate into citizenship at a rate of 30 percent - for other nationalities in Austalia it's closer to 60 percent."

Ardern, who began her statements with a comment on the partnership between Australia and New Zealand's first nations peoples, also thanked her counterpart for his commitments.

"In the last meeting we described it as an oppotunity for a reset in the relationship, and it felt to me today that we've established a work programme now that brings to life that reset and I want to thank you for that."

China, the Pacific, security and intelligence

With the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) next week, China's increasing presence in the region has been the elephant in the room.

Some have categorised Ardern's foreign policy speech to the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney yesterday as a softening of her rhetoric, but she rejected that today.

"If you look at the context of the statement I was making, it was an acknowledgement that within our region we've had the presence of the UK, France, more broadly the EU, China, Japan, New Zealand and Australia for a number of years," she said.

"That's not to say the approach of each of those donors hasn't changed over time. It's true that we have seen a more assertive position from China ... we therefore on that basis shouldn't suddenly say to sovereign nations that they have to pick whom their relationships are with."

New Zealand's position was Pacific priorities should come first, aid and development support should high-quality and free of coercion, and militarisation of the region should be opposed, she said.

She expected the topic would be raised at the PIF.

"But it needs to be raised not just with any one Pacific Forum member in mind ... when we meet relatively infrequently how do we make sure that we are sharing with one another, discussing these issues with one another but still maintining our individual sovereignty?"

Albanese said he was looking forward to the forum and it was in Australia's national interests that he attend. Australia's role had been as a friend, and a security partner of choice - and he wanted that to continue.

"Including with Prime Minister [of Solomon Islands Manasseh] Sogavare, he's indicated very positively his relationship with Australia - it's something that I look forward to discussing with all the leaders.

"We know that we are living in an era of strategic competition within our region."

Intelligence heads from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United Kingdom's MI5 had overnight warned in a rare joint statement of the threat China posed, saying it was the "biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security".


Albanese said his conversations with Pacific leaders so far all started with a congratulations on his election, and a sense of relief that his government was taking climate change seriously.

"It has been noticed around the world, not the least of which in the region, that Australia is now a participant in constructive action that's required globally to deal with the challenge of climate change."

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern and top ministers meet with their Australian counterparts in Sydney, 8 July 2022.

New Zealand and Australian top ministers meet to discuss shared challenges in Sydney. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

He said the annual meetings between ministers would include economic, foreign affairs, climate change and defence portfolios.

Ardern said bringing the climate portfolio into those annual bilateral exchanges signalled its value and importance, and highlighted investments on both sides of the Tasman into alternative energy sources.

"It's now about making it happen, it's now about seeing it through into projects that are supporting our neighbours for predominantly of course mitigation, but where they seek it adaptation."

"We want to continue to up our game in the region and I think that's what the Pacific are looking for," she said.

While the Covid-19 pandemic had affected development plans, projects would soon be ready for financing, she said.

Economy and migration

Albanese talked about increasing productivity, and further work to help businesses that were often already operating on both sides of the ditch.

"How we get that economic benefit for health, for jobs, for each other, is something that we do have the opportunity to really focus on with the 40th anniversary of the CER."

The Closer Economic Relations agreement between Australia and New Zealand marks that milestone next year.

He equivocated when asked whether he wanted to see nurses from New Zealand move to Australia, saying they shared the challenge of skill shortages.

But that came after a firm interruption from Ardern.

"Oh no, that's hard no - that's a hard no."

She suggested there were ways the countries could work together to be more coordinated in how they approached those challenges.

"It's in our interest just to grow that pool."


Ardern was unable to visit Ukraine during her recent trip to Europe, but Albanese's recent visit to Kyiv and his direct dialogue with President Volodymyr Zelensky would help New Zealand play a role.

She said the war was not just on land, sea and in the air but was also being fought on a digital front.

"It has been coordinated with very deliberate cyber-based attacks as well and a very concerted disinformation campaign ... we can see these issues and behaviours transcend national boundaries."

Albanese said cybersecurity was becoming more and more important.

"We live in an insecure world, that is why we will need to over a period of time increase our defence spending - sometimes that's military hardware but increasingly it is in other areas of attack that Australia - both the public sector and government but also private sector organisations - are subject to."