New Zealanders living in Australia are expected to be provided with an uncomplicated pathway to permanent residency and citizenship by Anzac Day 2023.
Currently, under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, New Zealand citizens can live, work and visit Australia for an indefinite period but are only considered temporary residents. As such, New Zealanders have limited access to social security payments, are unable to join the Australian Defence Force, undertake ongoing employment with the Australian Government, and vote.
Before 2001, New Zealand citizens in Australia had a pathway to Australian citizenship and could easily access social security benefits. The proposed changes will effectively turn the clock back to 2001.
There are approximately 70,000 Australians in New Zealand, compared to the Department of Home Affairs' May 2022 estimate of over 666,365 holders of the Special Category Visa in Australia. New Zealand has a population of just over 5 million people, which means 13 per cent of New Zealander's population resides in Australia.
The Prime Minister, Mr Anthony Albanese, has said "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".
Mr Albanese also indicated a shift in policy in relation to the deportation of New Zealand citizens with criminal convictions back to New Zealand, suggesting a more common sense position will be adopted.
New Zeland Prime Minister, Ms Jacinda Ardern, has been strongly vocal against the deportation of New Zealand citizens with criminal convictions from Australia when they have lived most of their life in Australia and had little or no connection in New Zealand for a significant time.
These changes, while seemly minor, have the potential to result in a major increase in the number of New Zealanders obtaining citizenship in Australia. The 2016 census showed there were over 518,000 New Zealanders in Australia and only 30 per cent of them had Australian citizenship.
As with anything in migration, the devil is always in the detail. We are excited to see what comes from this announcement and encourage New Zealanders to keep a watchful eye for further announcements.
This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.