A New Zealand minister has called Australia and New Zealand’s current relationship that of “distant cousins” and urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to make a bigger effort.
In a move likely to upset trans-Tasman relations with our friendly neighbour, Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said the relationship was characterised by “benign neglect”.
“The presumption is always of New Zealand being not quite on a par with New South Wales, rather than as an equal sovereign nation,” Mr Dunne said in a pre-Anzac Day statement.
Despite the rivalry between the two countries, Mr Dunne said Kiwis and Aussies still “genuinely like each other”, but called for Mr Abbott to do more to improve relations.
The frontbencher said Mr Abbott should scrap the passport requirement for trans-Tasman travel, instead of just focusing on the bond formed between the countries as Anzacs in WWI.
“A practical starting point would be to allow our respective citizens free movement across our borders, without the need for a passport, as is increasingly the case in Europe,” he said.
“The spectacular memorial gift to grace Wellington’s Pukeahu park is one thing but, Mr Abbott, a move on passports would be a much more enduring recognition of the bond we say we forged at Gallipoli.”
It is unclear whether New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, a conservative leader like Mr Abbott, supports the calls made by Mr Dunne.