Former Prime Minister Sir John Key has just received Australia's highest honour and is promising to keep pushing for the rights of New Zealanders living in that country, saying they deserve to be treated like anybody else.
Sir John has been appointed an Honorary Companion in the Order of Australia on the recommendation of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and has been be invested with the insignia of his appointment by Australia's Governor-General at Government House in Canberra this afternoon.
Australia's Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove described Sir John as "a most admirable New Zealander, a great leader, a great friend of Australia and a worthy recipient of this honour".
Speaking to 1 NEWS ahead of the ceremony, Sir John said he thinks Kiwis who say they're not feeling treasured in Australia are right.
"For the most part these people have come to Australia, they've paid their taxes, they've worked hard, they've made their families and their homes and lives here in Australia. And actually their families deserve to be treated like anybody else," he said.
"And I don't think the position is really sustainable for the Australian Government because eventually you've got anomalies that just don't work - whether that's the rights, for instance, of disabled children or a youngster that might be born here that can't necessarily serve for the Australian military."
Asked if he will now push as a private citizen for such rights for Kiwis when he sees Mr Turnbull, Sir John said they had a chance to "chew the fat" on those issues over drinks last night and when he "caught a lift" on a plane with Mr Turnbull to Canberra today.
You have to accept an honour like this isn't really bestowed on a person but on a relationship and the way the two countries have worked together."
Sir John Key
"I will continue to make that case because realistically I think it's the right thing for both sides," Sir John said.
"I mean it's always a delicate issue because in the end the one thing you don't want to happen is that window of opportunity for every Kiwi to potentially come to Australia if they want to and vice versa to be closed off," he added.
"Because for a lot of Kiwis they do come to Australia for a few years. Maybe they get a bit of experience and some capital and come back to New Zealand. So you just want to make sure that in advancing those rights we don't make it worse for whole future generations of New Zealanders that might want to come and spend some time in Australia.
Sir John revealed that he got a phone call from Mr Turnbull about the honour about two months ago and said initially he was stunned and shocked but naturally delighted.
He said on reflection you have to accept an honour like this as it isn't really bestowed on a person but on a relationship and the way the two countries have worked together.