Trans-Tasman employment ties strengthened with new background check program

Date: Jan 30, 2012

The successful transfer of workers between Australia and New Zealand has been provided with additional support in the form of a new trial program.

Focusing on New Zealand citizens travelling to Queensland for employment purposes for the first six months, the initiative will allow business owners and managers to vet applicants more thoroughly - with increased access to criminal background checks.

The development comes after prime ministers Julia Gillard and John Key met in Melbourne on January 29 to discuss a range of matters that affect both countries.

Gillard told reporters that the relationship between Australia and New Zealand "is one of being family", with a "shared partnership" and the international equivalent of "economic integration" that results from a strong interdependence.

"We've talked about the strength of our region and the fact that we are both situated in the region of the world that continues to experience economic growth and will during the course of this century and that that gives us particular opportunities for the future," said Gillard.

"We do have very much a shared employment market, New Zealanders come here, Australians go to New Zealand, so it makes sense to have this six month study to see how we can have a more automatic approach to sharing the kind of information that people want when they are vetting a new employee."

New Zealand's prime minister agreed with his Australian counterpart, adding that the meeting had allowed for an opportunity "to do some work" that could deliver long-term benefits for both countries.

Key said: "Certainly from New Zealand's point of view we don't have another relationship which is more important than this, you're our largest source of tourists coming to New Zealand, largest source of foreign investment, you're our largest export market."

The New Zealand prime minister also explained that while systems were in place for employers from both countries to check the backgrounds of their potential staff members, the frameworks were "rather clunky" and in need of review.

While Australia and New Zealand share a very special set of visa arrangements that allows citizens to travel between the countries rather freely, the matter of obtaining permanent residency or citizenship status still requires the attentions of official agencies.

In Australia, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is responsible for issuing both working visas and official passports.

The documentation required to receive permanent residency can sometimes be daunting and individuals may benefit from the assurances of a migration lawyer before they submit an application.

Specialist immigration lawyers can assist by providing advice on the steps involved in applying for permanent residency and reviewing the submission before it is delivered to the DIAC.