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Hanson likes Kiwis, but no change expected

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/07/2016 Sarah Robson

Pauline Hanson © AAP/Dan Peled Pauline Hanson Controversial Australian politician Pauline Hanson might like Kiwi immigrants, but Prime Minister John Key doubts there'll be much change in store for New Zealanders living across the ditch.

Ms Hanson has secured a seat in the Australian senate and she's confident her One Nation Party will win at least three, possibly five, more, and there's some speculation Ms Hanson's party could hold the balance of power once the final results of the Australian election are known in the coming days.

One Nation campaigned on a platform that included an inquiry into Islam, putting surveillance cameras in mosques, limiting Muslim immigration, banning new mosques, and abolishing multiculturalism.

But among the party's policies is a plan to change Australia's citizenship and social security laws so New Zealanders are eligible to become citizens and can access welfare services like benefits and disability support.

Asked if that offered a glimmer of hope to Kiwis across the Tasman, Mr Key didn't appear to think so.

"Any Australian politician that wants to advocate for better rights for New Zealanders in Australia is to be welcomed, in regard to that policy," he told reporters on Monday.

"I think realistically what has been happening in Australia is we've had some movement under Malcolm Turnbull, but the big issue here is fiscal cost to Australia, and given they're running a substantial deficit, I don't think you're going to see a dramatic change."

In February, Mr Key and Mr Turnbull cut a deal which means up to 100,000 Kiwis who have been living in Australia for at least five years could be able to claim citizenship.

But that initiative only applies to certain New Zealanders who moved to Australia after February 2001 and before the announcement was made this year.

Mr Key is hopeful there could be a bit more movement over time.

"But I don't think it's just an advocacy issue, it's ultimately does the Australian Treasury want to bear those costs and that's been the stumbling block so far."

Most New Zealanders move to Australia under a special category visa which has excluded them from applying for citizenship since law changes in 2001.

That means they're unable to access a range of welfare services and it's also one of the reasons why so many Kiwis have been caught out by tough immigration rules which mean any non-citizen who's served a prison sentence of 12 months or more can have their visa cancelled and be deported.

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