Australia doesn’t like losing in a competition with New Zealand but the current political circus in the land of jandals shows the Kiwis do elections better than we do.
New Zealand has a national election on Saturday.
Most Aussies probably don’t know that but the campaign has grabbed some high-profile attention.
World-famous whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have bought into the fight, as has US rap star Eminem.
The Kiwis already had Kim Dotcom, the millionaire internet entrepreneur wanted on web piracy charges in the US, to colour their election coverage with his Internet Party.
Then Dotcom held a much-hyped “Moment of Truth” rally on Monday where Assange and Snowden were beamed into a packed Auckland hall to allege the NZ government was spying on its citizens.
The rally didn’t dent the lead Prime Minister John Key – a millionaire former foreign exchange trader – holds in the polls.
But it did add to the international flavour injected by Eminem, who sued Mr Key’s National Party for using one of his songs.
Eminem’s Detroit lawyers claimed the song “Lose Yourself” was used without authorisation in a National television ad – a claim Mr Key rejected.
If election envy isn’t enough, Australians facing rising unemployment, budget crises and domestic terror plots will find no consolation in the New Zealand economy.
New Zealand, our sixth-largest trading partner, is growing its economy at a robust 3.9 per cent a year and unemployment is at 5.6 per cent and falling, compared to 6.1 per cent in Australia.
New statistics show the exodus of Kiwi jobseekers to Australia is at a 19-year low and many are even returning home.
Associate Professor Stephen Hoadley, a political studies researcher at the University of Auckland, says the economy and jobs simply aren’t on the radar this election.
The big issues are privacy, house prices and foreign investment.
Terrorism and the war in Iraq are also non-issues: New Zealand is too remote and too homogenous in population terms to feel as engaged as Australia does.
There is “sneaking admiration” for Australian PM Tony Abbott’s stance against terrorist group Islamic State but electorally it’s not a popular issue, Prof Hoadley said.
“I think the feeling is we are glad Australia is on the ball and catching these people,” he said.
For all its colour, Saturday’s poll is expected to put Mr Key back in power, with the big question being who he may have in a ruling coalition.
You can trust me: I love New Zealand. Internet MANA is fighting for a better future & for your rights. This is about ‘us’ and not about ‘me’
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) September 19, 2014
And that means not much is likely to change as far as Australians are concerned.
Prof Hoadley, who describes Australia and New Zealand’s alliance as “one of the most harmonious relationships in the world” said he anticipates no change whatsoever.
So life will go on: we’ll remain close friends, the All Blacks will keep stomping on the Wallabies at Eden Park, and we’ll keep making jokes about funny accents.
And Oz politics may not have Eminem but we do have Clive Palmer, who as far as we know is a much better twerker.