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Turnbull: Time will tell on citizenship

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/02/2017 Karen Sweeney
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives in Laos ahead of the East Asia summit © Getty Images Malcolm Turnbull

While as many as to 60,000 Kiwis living in Australia will soon have the chance to apply for citizenship the Australian prime minister has refused to say whether reciprocal rights are a possibility for others.

There's an issue of what will happen to other New Zealanders in Australia and whether any of them will have the same rights Australians have in New Zealand.

Malcolm Turnbull dealt with the issue by saying the rights given to Australians in New Zealand are a matter that should be directed to Prime Minister Bill English, whom he met with in Queenstown on Friday.

Mr Turnbull's Pathway to Citizenship programme, announced in February, will allow permanent residents who moved to Australia after 2000 to become citizens if they meet certain criteria.

"The Pathway to Citizenship measure will begin on July 1 and we believe there is around 60,000 New Zealanders in Australia who will be able to take advantage of it," he said.

"Time will tell if they seek to do so."

Mr English has praised the deal and said the New Zealand government was appreciative of the significant shift in policy that allowed investment in New Zealanders who made their home in Australia.

The citizenship discussion at Friday's annual trans-Tasman leaders meetings also gave Mr English the chance to express the government's disagreement with Australia's policy to deport foreign citizens with criminal convictions, which has affected a number of New Zealanders.

He said work was being done to make the policy "manageable" for Kiwis, including a high rate of successful appeals from those held in detention after their visas were cancelled.

"About half of those are successful because the Australian system is taking into account the kinds of cases that I think people can see are pretty tough, where someone went there when they were two years old or three years old and they have no connection to New Zealand," he said.

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