New voting rights and citizenship options were just two topics Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden discussed when they recently met in Sydney for the annual bilateral leadership meeting. The meeting covered Pacific engagement, climate action, defence and security, cyber security and pathways to citizenship. It also played a crucial role in resetting relations between Australia and New Zealand after Anthony Albanese became the new Prime Minister.
New Australian citizenship pathways
In another exciting step forward, the two Prime Ministers are looking to find a way to give New Zealanders who are living in Australia an alternative path to claiming Australian citizenship that differs from the usual process. There are hopes that this work will be complete within the next year, with a deadline of the 25th of April 2023. Mr Albanese explained that he did not want “people to be temporary residents forever.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden argued it was an ambitious timeline and pointed out some of the barriers that existed, “If you look at the Census, New Zealanders tend to translate into citizenship at a rate of about 30 per cent. For other nationalities in Australia, it’s closer to 60 per cent.” She also asked for there to be a “greater acknowledgement of the role that New Zealanders play here in Australia.” Jacinda Arden stated New Zealanders are Australia’s best migrants, with their contribution as taxpayers being a step above what you see from others.
Regarding the deportation of convicted criminals to New Zealand, Mr Albanese said this would continue, but that common sense should apply. Ms Arden stated that this common sense approach was what New Zealanders had been seeking.
Could there be new voting rights for New Zealanders living in Australia?
Anthony Albanese claimed new voting rights for New Zealanders living and working in Australia could be on the cards with a suggestion to match New Zealand laws. Currently, Australians who have lived in New Zealand for over a year can vote in New Zealand, but the same right is not given to New Zealanders living in Australia. Mr Albanese said he would ask the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters if the same rights can be given to New Zealanders in Australia who are “contributing to society, paying taxes, working.” He said, “We won’t pre-empt those processes. But it is, I think, a really common-sense position to at least examine over coming months.” The 2021 census shows that just over half a million people living in Australia were born in New Zealand.
Good news for New Zealanders
The good news is that the two Prime Ministers are committed to working through these issues together. Arden claimed their recent meetings had not only reset their relationship but also highlighted their common ground and shared values. While Mr Albanese stated, “I look forward to discussing ways to strengthen Australia’s bond with one of our closest neighbours.”
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