Same but Different

On the eve of talks between Australian and New Zealand cabinets in Sydney last week, Sydney Morning Herald columnist Andrew Tink looks back to 1840 – when New Zealand was briefly a dependency of NSW – for an answer to the debate about whether the two countries should become one. “Although people on each side of the Tasman appear indistinguishable to those of other nations, much like Americans and Canadians appear to us, the reality is that Australians and New Zealanders have substantially different national identities which first became apparent in the mid-19th century,” says Tink. Nevertheless, during the past two world wars, the Australian and New Zealand governments have shown they can work together for mutual defence when it matters. “Short of some natural catastrophe, it is difficult to see what would generate the momentum for union. If the Great Depression did not, it is hard to envisage what economic crisis would. Rather than working towards union, as the Australian parliamentary committee recommended, Australia’s focus should be on what can yet be learned from the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Tags: Australian and New Zealand  Sydney Morning Herald (The)