New Zealand Labour party leader David Cunliffe was called an "idiot" by Prime Minister John Key for his comments about fighting for the rights of Kiwis living in Australia.
Mr Cunliffe had criticised Mr Key for exerting little effort in urging Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to grant New Zealanders working and living in Australia the same rights as the rest of the Australian citizens.
Mr Cunliffe has long called for Australia to allow Kiwis to have social security benefits and students loans in the same way Australians who are living in New Zealand enjoy the same benefits. The Labour leader has also claimed Mr Key is not doing enough on the issue of Kiwi products being removed from shelves in Australian supermarkets.
Mr Cunliffe's criticisms followed last week's meeting of the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers in Sydney on Feb 7. In an interview, Mr Key remarked that Mr Cunliffe was an "idiot" and seemed to forget he was part of the government who made the arrangement with Australia.
The Labour party was the ruling party in 2001 when the Australia had stripped New Zealanders some of their entitlements for living across the Tasman.
Tony Abbott has maintained his ground on the rights of Kiwis living in Australia. New Zealanders who have migrated to Australia may have their hopes shot down when Mr Abbott said he expected Kiwis to be "lifters, not leaners." Mr Abbott said he was pleased to have New Zealanders get automatic right to residency and rights to work since no other country in the world has been given the same opportunity.
Mr Key further added that issues will always be around, but the country has taken many things out of its relationship with Australia.
Mr Abbott had declined to intervene on the issue of Australian supermarkets launching a "Buy Australian" campaign and removing Kiwi-made products from shelves. The Australian prime minister told New Zealand companies to file a complaint to the Australian Commerce Commission.
According to the Herald, Mr Key said Australian consumers will miss out if Kiwi products were not seen on shelves. Eventually, Mr Key added that customers will realise that New Zealand products are better and called on supermarkets to offer them again. Mr Key said the Crown Law does not see the supermarket campaign as a violation of the Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement.
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