As I sit and watch what I think will be the end of the Liberal Government of Australia, I am reminded of what an honour it was until a few years ago to know that the N.Z. in A.N.Z.A.C. was for New Zealand. I was proud to know that despite our quarrels over defence spending – where I admit at times we have been down – Australia was our mate. I was proud to know that when we went to war and fought that a good strong ally with the same or similar purposes was always standing next to us.
For decades it was a relationship that was as beautiful as it was unique. New Zealand and Australia’s relationship enjoyed a degree of closeness that only those living in one or the other could really appreciate. It was a relationship where bickering and griping at each other was generally transmitted through sports – cricket, rugby/rugby league, netball and hockey – whilst New Zealand and Australian politicians greeted each other with a familial warmth almost like family.
It was not just at national level. New Zealanders knew Australia in ways that other nations did not. Aside from the baptism of fire both nations sustained at Gallipoli and other battles during World War 1 and again in subsequent wars, Australia likewise came to understand that our bond is unique. It was perhaps best summarized when former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed the New Zealand Parliament, and referred to us as family rather than friends, in a year when both countries suffered significant loss in natural disasters and went to each others aid.
But in the last few years, the focus of the Australian Government has gone from being Australian to be America centric. It has gone from being about Australia’s neighbours to naively thinking that the United States cares about Australia, to thinking that if Australia naively follows America everywhere and anywhere, that the world will somehow be a better place.
No. It is not like that and possibly never was.
But one would nto realize that. The country that welcomed in huge volumes refugees from Europe after World War 2 was suddenly averse to taking on more people.Suddenly being held up at knife point is somehow okay.
Let us repair the damage. Let us restore the A.N.Z.A.C. tradition. We might be faced with wars that we question the legitimacy of. However New Zealand and Australia collectively have the ability to help ensure that the southwest Pacific and our own nations are respected throughout the world as being responsible and international law abiding.
2100 kilometres separate New Zealand and Australia. 2100 kilometres of some of the roughest and wildest sea waters. That is the physical separation of New Zealand and Australia. But many reforms in economic, social and political circles that were undertaken have somehow narrowed the gap.
We will always hopefully remain separate nations in reality, but our closeness is more than just the historic and national ties