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A marriage made in the Antipodes
December 6, 2006 11:35 PM   Subscribe

The Seventh State. An Australian federal parliamentary committee, tasked with looking into the harmonisation of the Australian and New Zealand legal systems, has concluded that the two countries should work towards a full union, or at least have a single currency and common markets.
NZ's Minister for Foreign Affairs has rubbished the idea as "parliamentary adventurism", but the Australian constitution provides for just such an eventuality.
One of the key hurdles for any union would be the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document. Misinterpreted, misunderstood, and hotly debated Te Tiriti has long been one of the reasons put for the difficult road facing New Zealand in becoming a republic. Having abolished appeals to the Privy Council, adopted a new electoral system, declared itself nuclear free (.pdf), taken France to court and opposed the war in Iraq, New Zealand has certainly embraced it's 'independence'. But a contracting sharemarket, muddled coalition building in government, and an increased focus on trans-Tasman alignment has lead some to support the idea of a less formal separation between the two countries. However a common currency has already been rejected by New Zealand's Finance Minister.
What hope then, for ANZAC union? And does it matter, when the rest of the world can't tell us apart?
posted by szechuan (64 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Worth it for the list of Kiwi slang (last link).

I think the advantages of a common market and currency are obvious, and both countries share a sort of peacekeeping/security fief in Oceania, but I don't see the political differences between the two being easily resolved. New Zealand has a much different history with its aboriginal population (which has a much shorter history there itself) and would likely fear the tyranny of the majority in any sort of union (the big-state-small-state problem that the US Constitution awkwardly solved). New Zealand has a smaller population than New South Wales.
posted by dhartung at 11:47 PM on December 6, 2006


I couldn't agree more. As a New Zealander I see massive positives in a merger (economic, governmental, or both) with Australia. However I could not with clear conscience promote such a merger with Australia's shocking record of indigenous rights.
posted by pivotal at 11:49 PM on December 6, 2006


thank you for posting that.
posted by avriette at 11:51 PM on December 6, 2006


I know that as an American, my opinion on this doesn't count for a whole lot, but I'd really prefer if NZ's rather reasonable government wasn't contaminated with Australia's nanny state disaster.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:00 AM on December 7, 2006


They seem way too far apart -- 1300 miles of ocean -- to make into one country. Then again, Hawaii is separated from California by about 2400 miles of ocean and from DC by all of that plus a large continent.

Let the indigenous groups decide whether and how this is done.
posted by pracowity at 12:06 AM on December 7, 2006


Seventh state? Bollocks to that. How about the West Island? That way we can get rid of little Johnnie and his mob.
posted by pompomtom at 12:08 AM on December 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


Emotionally I want to say "Hell no!" but intellectually I'm sure there are some great reasons blah blah blah no, just no.
posted by tracicle at 12:40 AM on December 7, 2006


but I'd really prefer if NZ's rather reasonable government wasn't contaminated with Australia's nanny state disaster.

That comment is going to need a hell of a lot of explaining, given that the Australian government is headed much further down the road of US-style laize faire free market bullshit than New Zealand's.

But as an Australian, I think it would be great. But it's often occurred to me that a lot of Australian's don't actually think much about New Zealand; for two countries so closely allied, we never hear anything much about what's going on in New Zealand on the news.

I used to think what we should really do is set up some kind of "Oceania Union" - like the EU, but involving all the west-pacific states. Then...well...looks what happened in PNG, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Fiji...
posted by Jimbob at 12:41 AM on December 7, 2006


MetaFilter: Rubbished the Idea as "Parliamentary Adventurism."
posted by ibmcginty at 1:14 AM on December 7, 2006


Soo not going to happen.
posted by dydecker at 1:17 AM on December 7, 2006


Mitrovarr: but I'd really prefer if NZ's rather reasonable government wasn't contaminated with Australia's nanny state disaster.

Jimbob: That comment is going to need a hell of a lot of explaining, given that the Australian government is headed much further down the road of US-style laize faire free market bullshit than New Zealand's.


Well, yes and no. While the Howard government may have started out that way (or at least seemed like they were going to start out that way until they actually did anything), it certainly isn't neo-liberal.

Look at 'WorkChoices' - the level of detail which it goes into in regulating the relationship between employer and employee is incredible. Then look at their campaign of social engineering through the tax system and how much childless people are subsidising those with children (many if not most of whom pay no, or negative tax) these days. That's a nanny state. Then there's the recent amendments to the Copyright Act: instead of creating a general principle of fair use or anything like that, the Act is now full of page after page of minutely detailed nested exceptions and counter-exceptions, all of which will be made irrelevant by technology in five years' time.

They take basically this approach to everything.

As for the Commonwealth of Austrazealand, it will never be. Not enough Australians care, and too many New Zealanders would wash the shores of their nation with blood before it could happen.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:18 AM on December 7, 2006


That's not what I'd call a nanny state. "Nanny state", to my mind, has connotations of socialism, or at least left-liberalism; the nanny is stern and invasive because she wants the children to thrive. Howard's legislation is just capitalist authoritarianism. Nanny Howard isn't meddling in the affairs of frail kids, she's stealing the family's food and giving it to her Hell's Angel boyfriend.
posted by stammer at 1:27 AM on December 7, 2006


"Australia's nanny state disaster."

Does nanny state mean something different in other parts of the world? I assure you the welfare systems is alive and kicking in the New Zealand, as are all kinds of regulation designed to protect the citizen.

I think our commonality has greatly decreased over the last few decades. I am always shocked when I am in Australia at how much more conservative and frankly grossly racist my apparent class peers are than their local equivalents. (Not to knock our Australian cousins, whose energy and optimism I admire and envy, but that's my honest perception). Perhaps we think those things and don't say them, I dunno.

a lot of Australian's don't actually think much about New Zealand. Can't say I blame them, but that's a big, big stumbling block right there.

Let the indigenous groups decide whether and how this is done. Heh. That would be hard to make fly in New Zealand, but you wouldn't have a shit-show with that idea in Oz.

Once John Howard's been strangled with Pauline Hanson's guts (I hear she's entering politics again!) we can talk.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:32 AM on December 7, 2006


Jimbob: That comment is going to need a hell of a lot of explaining, given that the Australian government is headed much further down the road of US-style laize faire free market bullshit than New Zealand's.

I'm not talking about economic policy, I'm talking about social policies. Things like censorship and gun control. Australia is one of the worst European-based nations in terms of censorship, I believe. And yes, they do share the US trend toward corporatism.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:36 AM on December 7, 2006


"I once heard of a British woman who was offended when she was leaving a group of people who all shouted out 'hooray'. It is a casual way of saying goodbye," said Mr Cryer.

Oh, this is bullshit. Max Cryer is the local equivalent of William Safire as far as language goes, ie full of himself and wrong more often than not. He's a lovely man but a terrible authority and not to be taken as anything other than entertainment.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:36 AM on December 7, 2006


Yeah, Australians do not care about New Zealand. Whenever I meet an Australian overseas, I always ask them if they've been to New Zealand. Not only do most say no, they all look as if I've asked them a ridiculous question. "Why would I want to go there?"
posted by dydecker at 1:38 AM on December 7, 2006


My grandma says "hooray" for goodbye!
posted by dydecker at 1:39 AM on December 7, 2006


He's a lovely man but a terrible authority and not to be taken as anything other than entertainment.

And was added only as such. I have to agree with the comment about cultural differences. I think the world tends to perceive Auckland as a mini version of Sydney, but it astounds me every time I visit at the vast chasm between us in attitudes, particularly over race/indigenous rights.

Even if all the economics lined up (which they don't - the effect of things like Australia's mining industry on NZ's export-led economy, for example), reaching any sort of cultural or social consensus seems impossible. Then again, I guess the europeans manage...
posted by szechuan at 1:44 AM on December 7, 2006


muddled coalition building in government.

It's a marvellous. The Economist may love strong executives with a laissez-faire bent, but we don't. We had a gutsful of dishonest pols with a neoliberal agenda and a bare plurality in the 80s so we made sure that their successors would never achive a major unpopular policy again. Weak governments are a good thing, not a bad one.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:45 AM on December 7, 2006


I'm 36 and lived in NZ all my life. Never ever heard anyone say "hooray" for goodbye. My partner thinks she might have heard an old person say it once. If it was ever current it was a couple of generations ago.

Whereas "cheerio" was common as a farewell up until my Dad's generation.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:49 AM on December 7, 2006


My grandmother is 93 :)
posted by dydecker at 1:53 AM on December 7, 2006


Not to argue your own dialect, but maybe it's regional?

I have three different Kiwi friends who use "hooray!" for goodbye...two from the Picton area and one from someplace near Masterton. I always assumed it was a smartass comment on the "Yank" leaving the gathering, but I never heard it on my South Island road trip (again, I assumed we weren't there long enough to get to know anyone that well. You'd have to be pretty close to someone to make that kind of sarcastic joke, no?)
posted by squasha at 2:10 AM on December 7, 2006


i_am_joe's_spleen, I'm constantly disappointed in the way the media jumps on everything Pauline Hanson says; it's like a slow motion car crash. Her big exclamation today was that "White South Africans have to go through all sort of health tests before they immigrate here, but black Africans don't!". There was, of course, no attempt made in any of the reports I listened to to refute such a claim that is factually wrong and clearly hear-say.

Anyway, that's my bitch for the day. Pauline Hanson is guaranteed to get double-digit votes in any seat in Queensland. And she's also a fucking embarrassment to the majority of other Australians. But then, shit, someone mentioned your foreign minister....? ;)
posted by Jimbob at 2:10 AM on December 7, 2006


Ah, and those friends are all in their 30's.
posted by squasha at 2:11 AM on December 7, 2006


Ah, Winston. He's played a nasty but successful game, using his Maoriness to deflect criticism that he's a racist, while at the same time pandering to the worst prejudices of our population. No, I'm not proud of him at all.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:39 AM on December 7, 2006


How to tell Kiwis and Aussies apart:

1. Do they look like Crocodile Dundee or a hobbit/Peter Jackson?
2. Do they say chips or chups?

Still not sure?

3. Ask them if they have been to New Zealand.
posted by asok at 2:44 AM on December 7, 2006


Yeah, Australians do not care about New Zealand.

I love discussions about race and class and country - brings out all the closet twats who wish to parade their extensive statistical knowledge and polling data to contribute much needed detail to such tricky topics.

---

I've always found it strange that we almost get no NZ news coverage and only very occasional NZ tv shows. Not that tv ought to be the arbiter of anything mind, but it's still odd.

I have a feeling that the 'Oceania Union' idea that Jimbob mentions is unlikely to be happily received in Canberra. Because there already is such an entity and it is not bogged down by the opinions of the smaller nation states as would happen if there were any formal arrangement. We are therefore free to stick our noses and armies in anywhere we see fit.

But I don't really have an opinion about NZ-OZ situation other than the commonsense approach of single currency and open borders. Beyond that I guess I have worries about dilution of identities in the world --- nothing concrete in mind here, but I don't know all the upside arguments I suppose.

To my regret I haven't been to NZ and would love to go. In general in my experience we all get on well and have similar laid back outlooks. But I don't know that between us we'd have a majority who would bother enough to promulgate any serious country amalgamation. Why get married when we can just live together?
posted by peacay at 3:00 AM on December 7, 2006


Thanks for the post. (I only visited briefly, but New Zealand is where I would move to instantly if we had to leave the states. Lovely country and people, in my limited experience.)
posted by maxwelton at 3:02 AM on December 7, 2006


I swear, this issue issue of merging Australia with NZ gets raised every 5-10 years...

And as an Australian, I'll chime in with my own opinions:

- I don't think too many Aussies would be against the idea. But I don't have the polling data on that one.

- We're only really divided about sport (specifically Rugby), otherwise I think we're culturally quite similar.

- Sheep jokes and funny accents aside, I think that if we did merge, most Australians would still think Tasmanians were the different ones.

- Economically, I think it would be good for both countries (especially NZ)

- Politically, it would be nice to have some forward thinking NZers with the vote (hey, they've had a female prime-minister already).

- And despite the jokes here, many Australians want to visit NZ, albeit for the the landscape, not the people - we're too similar to visit for that reason (the equivalent being Americans visiting Canada).
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:06 AM on December 7, 2006


why are you calling me a twat, peacay? i seriously don't get it. Because I gave an anecdote about how many Australians have never been to New Zealand? If this is so irrelevent to the discussion why are you telling us you've never been to NZ? And this:

In general in my experience we all get on well and have similar laid back outlooks.

If we're only allowed to talk statistics, your general experience counts for nothing. In short: think before you start hurling insults.
posted by dydecker at 3:08 AM on December 7, 2006


To twatishly overgeneralize, Aussies look at New Zealand and say, "why would I go there?", Aucklanders do the same for the rest of NZ, North Islanders do the same about the South Island, the South Island does the same for Stewart Island, and Stewart Island, I dunno, Pitcairn?
posted by arruns at 3:23 AM on December 7, 2006


Pauline Hanson is guaranteed to get double-digit votes in any seat in Queensland.

Do you mean more than 10 votes? Or 10%? She managed less than 5% of the primary vote in the last senate election. Which is nothing to be proud of, but let's not get carried away. She gets press because she is a walking headline, not because she is popular.
posted by markr at 3:26 AM on December 7, 2006


And I've been to New Zealand. Had a ball, went skiing and toured down the west coast of the south island. Planning on heading back to go mountain biking on the north island.
posted by markr at 3:27 AM on December 7, 2006


dydecker I apologize for the insult. It was unnecessary.
posted by peacay at 3:51 AM on December 7, 2006


no worries, mate ;)
posted by dydecker at 4:06 AM on December 7, 2006


To twatishly overgeneralize, Aussies look at New Zealand and say, "why would I go there?"

Well, that is a sad overgeneralization, because I actually love the place to bits - do most Aussies really think that about New Zealand? But then I love Adelaide and Darwin over Melbourne and Sydney any day. I'm a bit pastoral like that. Maybe I'm unusual. I'm also very easily impressed by things like...well, mountains with snow on them, and a lack of mammals. <shrug>
posted by Jimbob at 4:10 AM on December 7, 2006


Ok, I somehow feel compelled to comment in here. My family is from the US. Most of us chose to leave well over a decade ago, setting up homes in various countries in Europe. Through long transitions, my younger brother and his wife settled in NZ, have their family there and are now naturalised Kiwi's. I am now a resident of Australia.

At the surface an ANZAC union seems to make logical sense but I couldn't help but to fear the loss of so many positive aspects of NZ culture and politics.

I'd also venture to say that an ANZ union would likely negatively impact the NZ economy. Sure, there would be the expanded 'domestic' markets, but even within AU there are fairly significant restrictions for interstate trade. I don't believe that NZ would suddenly have free access to ship their apples just anywhere.

It has always been surprising to me how few Australians have visited NZ. As an alternative, maybe there is synergism in Tasmania becoming NZ's western island?
posted by michswiss at 4:11 AM on December 7, 2006


Well that's one less Rugby team for the Boks to lose against...
posted by PenDevil at 4:24 AM on December 7, 2006


I'd as soon as recommend NZ join Australia as say that Canada should join the US (i.e. hell no).

That said, what about Canada and NZ? Two countries with much larger neighbours, and lots of rocks and trees and water (we've got more fresh water, but they also have volcanos). And we're far enough apart that the size difference won't be so noticible. Sure, the distance means that most Canadians wouldn't visit NZ, and vice versa, but almost no Canadians visit northern Canada as it is. Psychologically, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon are so much farther away from Toronto than Auckland or Wellington are.

(note - this is not a serious suggestion)
posted by jb at 4:36 AM on December 7, 2006


Actually, I would support such a union, but only if Australia was renamed "West Island" (as suggested above). That would be the proper relationship.
posted by jb at 4:37 AM on December 7, 2006


I think we here in Western Australia need to seceede before Australia goes and invites another state into the federation.
posted by Talez at 4:55 AM on December 7, 2006


As an Australian (who has been to New Zealand), here are two useful rules of thumb for non-Antipodeans:

* Ideas about a national merger or union are always raised by Australians who think it sound likes "a great idea" and would be a benefit "to everyone". New Zealanders always think it's a bad idea, perhaps after seeing how in Australia everything west of Geelong or north of Newcastle is treated as an afterthought.

* Most internationally famous Australians are, in fact, New Zealanders.
posted by outlier at 5:35 AM on December 7, 2006


... ['Nanny Howard' is] stealing the family's food and giving it to her Hell's Angel boyfriend.

Nitfilter: Sounds to me more like she's stealing food from college students and giving it to parents who couldn't be bothered to practice birth control.
posted by lodurr at 6:17 AM on December 7, 2006


Most internationally famous Australians are, in fact, New Zealanders.

Or Nigerian. Or American, for that matter.

OTOH, New Zealand doesn't have NIDA.

Still, at this point, I'd rather visit New Zealand.
posted by lodurr at 6:24 AM on December 7, 2006


I know that as an American, my opinion on this doesn't count for a whole lot, but I'd really prefer if NZ's rather reasonable government wasn't contaminated with Australia's nanny state disaster.

As another american, I have to say I agree. Australia's government is like what you'd get if you took everything bad about the U.S. government and got rid of everything good. Not exactly of course, but it's really a mess. NZ's seems quite nice by comparison.
posted by delmoi at 7:22 AM on December 7, 2006


I would welcome closer ties with West Island - I think Austraya makes great neighbours and Austrayans are for the most part very similar to us.

Of course if you read The Constitution of Austalia - New Zealand is a founding state of the Commonwealth of Austraya.

Despite the long tradition of ANZAC I do think that NZ made the right decision not to follow Oz to war in Iraq. (This is another good example of how you can tell a Kiwi - we always clamber for the moral high groung whenever possible)
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:51 AM on December 7, 2006


As another american, I have to say I agree. Australia's government is like what you'd get if you took everything bad about the U.S. government and got rid of everything good.

Yeah, they took away the freely available guns, and added cheap education and healthcare. What a pack of idiots.
posted by markr at 12:30 PM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Does anybody still say 'Box of birds'? Surely, 'Box of fluffies', or 'fluffy ducks' is more common. A straw poll in the office came down heavily on 'Box of birds' being as antiquated as Max Cryer.

That said, I vote for NZ joining forces with Canada as I think the national psyches are a better match. Then we could conquer the US and OZ in a devastating pincer movement and from then on to reshape the world in our generally friendly but not much money sort of image.
posted by Sparx at 12:45 PM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


If they're taking on both the US and Australia, wouldn't it be more of a "pirouette movement"? I think you might have a new one for the tactics texts, there, sparx...
posted by lodurr at 1:17 PM on December 7, 2006


The "hooray" as farewell is pronounced hoo-ray.
posted by emf at 1:41 PM on December 7, 2006


Australia's government is like what you'd get if you took everything bad about the U.S. government and got rid of everything good. Not exactly of course, but it's really a mess.

I think there's some confusion about. I've been sitting here getting all offended by people dissing on Australia's government and I've just worked out why. I've assumed you all are dissing on the system of government, and it's historic functioning. But I've just worked out that you might actually be referring to The Howard Government, in which case, go right ahead mates! I would agree, Howard probably typifies all that's bad about the US, without the good bits.
posted by Jimbob at 1:42 PM on December 7, 2006


If this suggestion is what it will take to finally oust George Gregan from the Australian rugby team, then I am all for it.

Come to think of it, we can replace all of our useless Wallabies with fearsome All Blacks, and then the newly-formed Aunztralian All Golds will, well...the name says it all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:48 PM on December 7, 2006


There were not enough links posted for this article. Could you please add a few?
posted by sien at 3:15 PM on December 7, 2006


Australia's government is like what you'd get if you took everything bad about the U.S. government and got rid of everything good. Not exactly of course, but it's really a mess.

I was mostly under the impression that everything bad about the US government was foisted upon us as a reward for participation in Iraq (aside from Howard... we did that to ourselves). Hello FTA.

As an Australian I would heartily support becoming the west island. Of course the key objections from our government's perspective would be that the NZ PM is female, not overtly racist, and doesn't answer to the US ambassador, none of which would fly with Howard.
posted by blender at 3:17 PM on December 7, 2006


Well, when faced with a conga-line of suckholes, there are only two choices: sidle up behind the last one, or leave the party. Her choice.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2006


That list of Strine feels wrong to me. "Bogun" is more popular than "booner" here in Oz. In fact, I believe "booner" is really only used in Canberra and not much any where else. And in Sydney they call people "westies" instead.
posted by threeze at 6:42 PM on December 7, 2006


I have three different Kiwi friends who use "hooray!" for goodbye... I always assumed it was a smartass comment on the "Yank" leaving the gathering

It's a Maori word for goodbye that sounds a little bit like the English word for a cheer, so if you don't speak Maori, or don't know the word, your brain probably picks the closest-sounding thing that you are familiar with, and then... oh dear... :)

I can't remember how it is spelled. I don't think it's "hooray", I think it's probably more like hurrah. I don't speak Maori.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:11 PM on December 7, 2006


It's "Haere-ra" and pronounced roughly hi-ray-rah. I don't think it sounds like hooray at all. Actually, I know a few people that say "Hoo-roo" for goodbye too, and I always assumed it was something we adopted from Oz.
posted by tracicle at 7:16 PM on December 7, 2006


In Australia in the seventies New Zealand coins (lower denominations) were commonly used without any objections. I still often come across them in my change now. And yes, tracicle.
posted by tellurian at 7:57 PM on December 7, 2006


I'm with the people who call for an Oceanic Union thing, but Australia would swallow NZ up if it was just them. Many of us admire NZ and their policies on many issues--it's not so with Australia.
posted by amberglow at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2006


Max Cryer is right: Hooray is often used as a way of saying goodbye in NZ. It is used the same way that Don Burke uses Hooroo.
posted by Foaf at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2006


Let the indigenous groups decide whether and how this is done.

How do you decide who qualifies? My family has been here eight generations. All four grandparents and both parents and everyone in my generation were born here. I've never lived or known anywhere else. This is where I belong. Do I get a say in the future of my country?

Not enough Australians care, and too many New Zealanders would wash the shores of their nation with blood before it could happen.

Good point, certainly from the NZ side. In general NZ doesn't like to be pushed around and is prepared to speak up about things we believe in (e.g. nucleur free policy). Add a large touch of younger sibling syndrome (we're just as big and clever and good as you, no really, we are!) and the kiwi tendancy towards total racism* against Australians and Americans and there's no way in hell we're going to risk being assimilated. Things are quite nice here how they are thankyouverymuch.
*yes it's still racisim when you put down an Aussie, even if they're white and talk funny

I think the cultural differences between the countries are being underplayed, as they often are in this debate. The overall culture and national feeling is actually quite different between NZ and Australia, as reflected by the differences in governments. Money and laws and whatever can be negotiated (although the attempts to combine food standards show how difficult this can be), but culture can't.
posted by shelleycat at 3:22 PM on December 9, 2006


Hooray is often used as a way of saying goodbye in NZ.

Often? OFTEN?! Then how come I've never heard this usage even once?

Is it a South Island thing, perhaps?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:09 PM on December 9, 2006


Is it a South Island thing, perhaps?

Nah, my Dad says it and we grew up in the Waikato. He's originally from the Hawkes Bay. I think it's probably generational, more common for older people and in younger gnerations only used by those who've had it handed down. Personally I made an effort not to pick up my Dad's mannerisms (don't know how sucessful that was), so I don't say it.
posted by shelleycat at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2006


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