15 March 2010

Australia and New Zealand merger “not going to happen” says Keys

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Despite a flurry of news reports suggesting Australia and New Zealand may consider a merger, New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has dismissed the idea saying is not the answer to New Zealand's problems.

Former Commonwealth Secretary-General and New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Don McKinnon disagrees and believes a merger with Australia is inevitable and driven by people, rather than 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," he said. 

A recent poll conducted for Television New Zealand's Question and Answer program on Sunday found that 37 per cent of New Zealanders thought the country would be better off merging with Australia, 27 per cent said no and 25 per cent felt it would make no difference.

Most New Zealanders though were against the idea of New Zealand becoming an Australian state, with 71 per cent of New Zealanders opposed, and 45 per cent strongly opposed.

Australians were less strongly against the idea, with 52 per cent opposed with 26 per cent strongly opposed.

Don McKinnon said he believed union was "probably inevitable", but felt it another generation before this would occur.

However, Mr Key said the debate was pointless.

"It's not going to happen and I don't think we should waste any time even thinking about it. The reality is what will make New Zealand a successful country are the same things that would make it a successful state of Australia," he said.

Queensland Liberal MP Peter Slipper said Australians were more relaxed about the prospect of union than New Zealanders but proposals such as a joint currency should be looked at instead.

Labour leader Phil Goff believed that New Zealanders would never consider submerging their identity with Australia and more work should be done on building on a single economic market.

When Australia was formed, its constitution was drawn up to allow New Zealand to join the federation of states, but New Zealand backed away from the idea then.

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