A cheesed-off Jacinda Ardern has taken aim at Australia's new ruling on temporary visa holders after acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge effectively told thousands of out-of-work New Zealanders "it's time to go home".
The Australian government introduced new advice to the 2.17 million people in Australia on temporary visas on Saturday, which includes 672,000 people on the New Zealand-specific 444 visa.
Many of those Kiwis will have arrived in Australia prior to 2001, which grants them access to Centrelink benefits.
More still will have been in permanent, full-time or part-time work, which grants them access to the Australian government's mammoth JobKeeper scheme.
But others in casual, insecure work or without jobs find themselves without support and have been asked to leave by Mr Tudge.
Ms Ardern suspects that will be "a wide number" given the impact of coronavirus on the economy, and has urged her Australian counterparts, once again, to better support New Zealand citizens living in Australia.
The New Zealand PM - who in February infamously chastised Prime Minister Scott Morrison for deporting criminals to New Zealand who held Kiwi passports but did not hold established links to her country - sounded off at the Australian government again.
"What (Mr Tudge would) do well to remember is that if they wish for Australia to be in a position to gear up in the aftermath of the outbreak, they now need a workforce to do that," she said from Wellington.
"New Zealanders make up that workforce.
"They, on average, earn more and pay more taxes than others. They are a key part of the Australian economy and I would have thought they wouldn't want to be so quick to lose them."
Ms Ardern tersely pointed out many were employed in the health care system.
"New Zealanders make up (a portion of Australia's) health workforce and that there are some, for instance, who won't be being kept on (by employers) because they may have been involved in contractual arrangement and the health workforce and in elective services," she said.
"That, I would have thought again, would be a workforce that they would wish to keep."
The 203,000 international tourists currently visiting Australia have also been asked to leave "as quickly as possible".
Mr Tudge said the 118,000 people on a working holiday visa - or backpacker visa - should leave if they did not have confidence to sustain themselves for six months, with exemptions made for critical sectors.
Those are health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing and childcare.
Australian Associated Press
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