New Zealand's high commissioner has urged Australia to consider giving Kiwis exemptions from tougher deportation laws, which continue to damage relations between the close neighbours.
The Senate's legal affairs committee is scrutinising proposed laws to lower the bar for criminals' visas to be cancelled.
Under the changes, people would automatically fail the character test if convicted of certain offences which carry a jail term of two or more years.
New Zealand High Commissioner Dame Annette King said changes made to deportation laws five years ago had disproportionately affected Kiwis.
"The 2014 changes have been corrosive to our New Zealand-Australia relationship," she said, echoing NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
She said low rates of dual citizenship meant New Zealanders, including children, living in Australia were more vulnerable to deportation policies.
"This is one area where we do see it eats away at the people-to-people relationship," Dame Annette said.
New Zealand would like special consideration under a ministerial direction, as recommended by parliament's migration committee.
Lawyers and migrant groups also questioned the need to toughen up the character test.
The Law Council of Australia's Carina Ford said decisions to cancel visas could have profound impacts.
"The law council is concerned the bill is neither necessary nor proportionate and the Migration Act already provides overly broad powers to cancel and refuse visas on character grounds," she told the hearing in Canberra on Monday.
Designated crimes would include violent offences such as murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, threatening violence and possessing a weapon.
Sexual assault and sharing of an indecent images without consent would also be covered, along with breaches of protection orders.
Concerns were raised that women who are victims of domestic violence could also risk deportation under the new regime.
The inquiry heard the example of a woman technically in breach of a court order by contacting her abusive partner to ask for help with picking up children from school.
The law council's David Prince said the measures would dramatically increase the number of visa cancellations.
"Assault could be someone touching your finger. Assault could be someone leading you to your harm or death," he said.
"You can't use words of such generality to deal with cancellation powers."
Immigration lawyers also warned the changes could clog up the courts with more people refusing to plead guilty.
Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia chief executive Mohammad Al-Khafaji said automatic disqualification of visas should only apply to the most serious crimes.
"This amendment is unsuitable, ineffective and unjustified," he said.
Australian Associated Press