Thursday, February 7, 2013

Australia and New Zealand--almost 'bedfellows.'


No, I am not talking about gay marriage (but I will if you want) but I am talking about the very special relationship between NZ and Aussie. Maybe it’s a bit like that between the USA and Canada. Then again it’s a bit different, depending on what level you are talking about and who you are talking to. One similarity is that NZ and Canada sometimes feel like they are being treated like the smaller sibling.

There is no getting away from the fact that NZ and Australia have a shared history; in sports, cultural heritage (the European side) and economic ties and in the common sharing of blood during war time.

Like any ‘siblings,’ we have little hissy fits from time to time, but to be fair, it is NZ that throws the toys from the cradle; most times Australia hardly notices that NZ has even let loose. That comes down to the fact that NZ just hates been patronised and Australia doesn’t even know it is doing it.

There is no getting away from the fact that both nations are inextricably tied, economically. The relationship benefits both nations and if anything, it grows stronger; to the point that the Trans-Tasman economy is almost as ‘one.’ This economic give and take has been a long time in the making and it has not always been one way. There have been times when the ‘flow’ of people has been form Australia to New Zealand and that may well occur again in the future as Australians tire of ‘fires and floods,’ along with a fear of unfettered inflow of refugees from parts further afield.

Sometimes Aussies feel that they are disporprtio0naltly affected by hard economic times in NZ. This takes the form of thousands of NZers leaving for Australia and then becoming a burden on the Aussie taxpayers when things don’t work out. Similarly they may feel that NZ is not holding up its share of the Trans-Tasman defence arrangements. There is no doubt that Australia shoulders the much bigger part of defence commitments in the region.

It could be said that NZ’s armed forces are run-down and if it were not for the goodwill of Australia, our ‘forces’ would be verging on a joke. Take for example the fact that Australia pays for a group of specialist navy personnel to fill the gaps in the NZ navy, left by NZers leaving for ‘greener ‘pastures in Australia.

NZ cannot continue to rely on Australian goodwill; it must take a stronger role in this special relationship. Yes, the ‘sheep jokes’ will continue and Australians will still take the piss out of us, but we can give that back in kind. Just scratch the surface and the ‘real relationship’ will become apparent; one that is genuine and destined to be the dominant force in the South pacific/Tasman Ocean area. There is not much NZ can do about the fact that Australia is just ‘bigger’ than us.