Image via WikipediaWill Australai and New Zealand amalgamate, is it inevitable...
Australia and NZ merger 'inevitable'? Perhaps, but such a discussion would not be an isolated one; it would be be part of a wider discussion on republicanism.
Part One: Polls and opinion
Some 40 per cent of Kiwis supported a debate about New Zealand becoming a state of Australia. Photo / Steven McNicholFormer Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon believes a merger with Australia is inevitable.
A recent poll has found 40 per cent of New Zealanders support a debate about becoming a state of Australia.
The UMR Research poll surveyed a thousand people on both sides of the Tasman.
Approximately a quarter of Kiwis favoured the country becoming part of the Australia with 71% opposed to the idea.
37% of Australian respondents supported the merger, compared 52% against it.
Sir Don - who is also a former Foreign Affairs Minister and chair of the Trans-Tasman Business Circle - told TVNZ's Q&A programme that it was just a matter of time before a formal agreement is reached with Australia.
"We've got nearly half a million New Zealanders living in Australia anyway," he said.
"By the time the next generation comes around, technology and the movement of people everywhere, New Zealanders won't want to be in the situation of paying taxes in both countries and all the time going through immigration and Customs.
They'll want to try to eliminate all those things."
Sir Don believes the shift will be people-driven, rather then politically motivated.
"It's a debate that's going to go on, but no political leader in New Zealand is going to win an election advocating this issue."
But Labour party leader Phil Goff said there was no reason for a union with Australia.
He said although Australia had nothing to lose from it, joining with a much larger country would mean giving up our national identity.
"New Zealanders are proud of their culture, they are proud of their history, they are proud of their sense of identity."
He said working towards a single economic market between the countries could be achieved without a merger.
"When we can get the benefits of a closer economic relationship and a single economic market, what are the additional benefits of simply being the seventh state?
"It's about making decisions in New Zealand for New Zealanders by New Zealanders that really matter. We can have a closer relationship, we can get the best of both worlds. Submerging ourselves into Australia is not required to achieve that."
Former Prime Minister Mike Moore said New Zealand simply had to "toughen up".
"We will not solve our economic problems by becoming a state or two states of Australia."
Part Two: The Kiwi Riverman's opinion:
The above report is an interesting one. But as I said from the commencement of this post, such a discussion would be part of a wider discussion on the merits of republicanism. Australia will drive this discussion, and New Zealand would have to consider whether it could continue on on its own. When, not if, New Zealand as a society decides its future, the discussion will move to one of a merger with Australia.
It wouldn't be a simple merger as another state of Australia, but how New Zealand would fit in with a future expanding Australia. There could well be two states, or even three when considering Auckland's role. Auckland is becoming a "city state" with a quarter of New Zealand's population. The South Island is slowly becoming a different entity to the North Island. And its true that over a half a million New Zealanders already reside in Australia.
We should consider the origination of the Commonwealth of Australia: It was originally conceived as a "Commonwealth of Australasia", but the then Premier of New Zealand, Richard Seddon, pulled NZ out of the colony amalgamation discussions and our country went on to become a dominion on its own. Australia became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, and New Zealand became a dominion a few years later. But of course neither country really becoame fully self-governing for a few years after that.
And the matter of a republic? There will be a bit more water flowing under the bridge yet; New Zealand is actually in the process of discussing the merits of a new flag, but this is actually premature when considering the possibility of an amalgamation of the two countries, and of course the republic matter itself.
New Zealand would have to consider the future of a number of pacific islands first: the Cooks Islands are technically part of New Zealand, Niue and Tokelau are territories and Samoa is getting closer to NZ every year as more and more Samoans become resident in the country. So there is more to consider than a straight amalgamation with Australia. There could well be a consideration for an Oceanic republic.
Acknowledgements: Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald, Peter Petterson.