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Aust citizenship plan 'disappointing': PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/04/2017
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As the new Foreign Minister one of Gerry Brownlee's first discussions will be to plead the case for Kiwis seeking a simple pathway to Australian citizenship, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Australia announced changes to its immigration policy on "pretty short notice with very rapid application" last week which Mr English says could affect New Zealanders living overseas.

The changes require New Zealanders to be permanent residents for four years before being eligible for citizenship, up from one year.

It follows the announcement of a pathway to citizenship announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year which allowed Kiwis who arrived in Australia between February 2001 and 2016 earning more than A$53,000 a year for five years to apply for permanent residence from July this year.

Mr English said on Monday there had been no formal contact by himself or ministers with the Australian government regarding the newest policy but officials were working to ensure that it wouldn't affect those taking up the pathway.

"The officials are going through a process of understanding exactly what the decision is - it was one that appeared on pretty short notice with very rapid application so we want to make sure, as I said, that all the implications are understood," he said.

"But on the face of it, it's disappointing that New Zealanders would have to wait longer."

An exemption for New Zealanders is one proposal the government might consider putting forward.

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