20 Nov 2015

Kiwis could get Australian citizenship more easily - PM

9:55 am on 20 November 2015

Prime Minister John Key is optimistic that Australia will make it easier for New Zealanders to become citizens, following a meeting with his trans-Tasman counterpart yesterday.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and and New Zealand PM John Key

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and and New Zealand PM John Key Photo: AFP

Mr Key said it was simply not sustainable for there to be so many New Zealanders in Australia who he described as effectively stateless.

He said that at the meeting with Malcolm Turnbull he reiterated the strong views held by many in New Zealand about Canberra's deportation policy, and that it went against the ANZAC spirit.

But Mr Key offered little hope that Australia would soften its policy of deporting New Zealanders who have been sentenced to more than a year in jail.

"Will there be change? I think that will be quite difficult because of the nature of the fact that everybody in Parliament voted for it," Mr Key said.

But Mr Key said Mr Turnbull raised the issue of making citizenship easier with him.

"It's something he'd like to address and I think he's conscious of the impact actually and the perception of New Zealanders about what's been happening with deportees.

"So if he can't immediately fix that issue he might be able to fix the way that would actually stop them being deported in the first place."

Metiria Turei responds to Budget 2015.

Metiria Turei Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said it was good news if progress was being made on the citizenship front, which she said was grossly unfair for New Zealanders who called Australia home.

"Despite living their for almost all their lives, they still aren't entitled to the same kind of benefits as Australian citizens - so that is a good step," she said.

"But it does not let the Prime Minister off the hook when it comes to arguing strongly for the human rights of New Zealand citizens held in detention and the indecency of the detention camps that new Zealanders are being held in," she said.

David Shearer

David Shearer Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Labour Party foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer said the Prime Minister was trying to make an absolute mess look good.

"He's got absolutely no guarantees, that's the first thing, and secondly he hasn't addressed the issue of people being deported back to New Zealand," Mr Shearer said.

Mr Shearer said it was time Mr Key took a strong stand on the issue.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said it was an interesting development in New Zealand's relationship with Australia.

"If the Prime Minister is talking this up, even though it's a little cautious, I think that there might be something coming, so that gives me some hope at least," Mrs Fox said.

"But as you say the proof is in the pudding."

240614. Photo supplied. Māori Party Selects Marama Fox as Ikaroa Rawhiti candidate.

Marama Fox Photo: Supplied

Mrs Fox said making Australian citizenships easier to obtain would be life changing for some.

"You are literally a zero on the books of the Australian Government if you run into trouble, lose your job, if you're in a domestic violence situation and you need to get out and go and seek help they are a zero on the books," she said.

"They will not get support, they will not get help...because they are not an Australian citizen."

A dozen New Zealand citizens who had been detained on Australia's notorious Christmas Island were flown back to this country yesterday.

Hundreds more are expected to follow and talk of easier citizenship will be cold comfort for them.

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