Our Trans-Tas­man bonds stay strong

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

AS a long-term ex­pa­tri­ate Kiwi and for­mer Christchurch res­i­dent, born and bred, I am ex­tend­ing my thanks and grat­i­tude to all my fel­low Aus­tralians for their com­pas­sion­ate and gen­er­ous re­sponses to the re­cent earth­quake tragedy.

From the high­est level of gov­ern­ment to in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens, their heart­felt and swift ex­pres­sions of sym­pa­thy and prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance was a true demon­stra­tion of the close bonds that both coun­tries share.

Dur­ing my 40-plus years in Aus­tralia and mil­i­tary ser­vice in both coun­tries, I am well aware of the un­der­ly­ing ten­sions and re­sent­ments held in some quar­ters to­wards New Zealand with many Aus­tralians feel- ing that New Zealand does not pull its weight in our mu­tual de­fence and re­gional aid, as well the ever in­creas­ing in­flux of New Zealan­ders com­ing to Aus­tralia to help meet the de­mands for well ed­u­cated, skilled work­ers and soundly cre­den­tialed pro­fes­sion­als; their pres­ence some­how seen as a bur­den on the Aus­tralian tax­payer.

Some New Zealan­ders, in turn, tend to suspect the po­lit­i­cal mo­tives of many Aus­tralian ini­tia­tives that they feel may im­pinge upon their na­tional sovereignty a nd dis­ad­van­taget hem trade-wise. In­deed, our PM saw fit to bury one is­sue on a re­cent visit to Welling­ton and for­mally de­clare the great ‘‘ Ap­ple Wars’’ to be fi­nally over.

Hope­fully we have been for­given for in­tro­duc­ing ‘‘ wide combs’’ into the Aus­tralian shear­ing in­dus­try thus help­ing to bring it into the 20th cen­tury.

All such sus­pi­cions and re­sent­ments were put aside in Aus­tralia’s re­sponse to t he dev­as­ta­tion vis­ited upon Christchurch by the earth­quake. Com­ing closely on the heels of the Bris­bane floods, to which New Zealand also con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cant as­sis­tance, Aus­tralians dug deep into their col­lec­tive pock­ets and aid and as­sis­tance flowed.

To all those that put aside their nor­mal daily em­ploy­ment and crossed the Tas­man to con­trib­ute their pro­fes­sional skills and ex­per- tise, a spe­cial thank you and I trust that my home­town ex­tended its hos­pi­tal­ity and grat­i­tude in re­turn.

When the re­build­ing and re­cov­ery of Bris­bane, North Queens­land and Christchurch is com­plete and it comes time for re­flec­tion, I would hope both gov­ern­ments will draw from the lessons learned and seek to find ways that will al­low both coun­tries t o grow to­gether, trade as one eco­nomic unit, see the ad­van­tages of the free flow of each oth­ers cit­i­zens be­tween both coun­tries and ac­cept what al­ready is a de­facto re­al­ity of one nation and two gov­ern­ments in the South Pa­cific. KEVIN BOVILL,


HELP­ING HANDS: The re­cent dis­as­ters in Aus­tralia and New Zealand re­in­forced our friend­ship

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