New Zealand PM Bill English hits out at ‘disappointing’ Australian citizenship changes – Updated

Collateral damage?

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English has criticised the Turnbull government’s newly unveiled citizenship changes, expressing concern that tens of thousands of New Zealanders would now have to wait years longer to become Australian citizens.

The “special relationship” between the two countries needed to be maintained, Mr English said, adding that government officials were seeking to understand the impact of the changes on a streamlined pathway to citizenship unveiled last year for New Zealanders living in Australia.

There is concern among Kiwis that the changed citizenship conditions – specifically the longer, four-year waiting period before being eligible – undermine the pathway finalised last year by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former prime minister John Key.

“I wouldn’t agree it completely undermines it just because the deal was put in place and there is a path to citizenship and that wasn’t there before Prime Minister Turnbull agreed to put it in place, but it is disappointing for them – for the Kiwis [in Australia] and for ourselves – that it looks like it will take longer,” Mr English said in a press conference on Monday.

“We understand that Australia has a strong focus on its border control and citizenship. New Zealanders are caught up in that and we want to make sure we can maintain the ongoing special relationship and improved conditions and better deals for Kiwis who are in Australia.”

The pathway arrangement announced in February 2016 and coming into effect in July 2017 allows New Zealanders holding special category visas to secure permanent residency after five years in Australia earning $53,000 annually. They would have been able to attain citizenship a year later.

Source: New Zealand PM Bill English hits out at ‘disappointing’ Australian citizenship changes

Appears that PM Turnbull has overturned the changes applying to New Zealanders living in Australia:

Malcolm Turnbull has assured his New Zealand counterpart that the recently announced citizenship changes will not undermine the fast-tracking of Kiwi applications.

The New Zealand prime minister, Bill English, had previously expressed disappointment about the changes, saying he was not forewarned of the Australian government’s plan, which appeared to undermine an agreement between the two nations made last year.

That agreement meant New Zealanders could apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residence, provided they arrived in Australia between 2001 and 2016, and earned more than A$53,000 a year for five consecutive years.

But English’s office released a statement on Friday, saying the New Zealand prime minister been assured otherwise by Turnbull.

A spokesman for English said he had been assured the changes would not affect New Zealand citizens who had moved to Australia between February 2001 and 2016.

“Prime minister Turnbull confirmed that the pathway to citizenship for eligible New Zealanders, announced in February 2016, has not been changed,” the spokesman said. “It remains in place and on track, and is separate from the citizenship changes which Australia announced last week.

“Prime minister English has thanked prime minister Turnbull for this confirmation.”

English’s office confirmed this meant those eligible New Zealand citizens would not need to wait four years before qualifying for citizenship.

Source: Malcolm Turnbull clarifies Dutton ruling on New Zealanders’ citizenship fears

 

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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