FRIENDLY rivalry is fine, but a distinct chill has come over Australia’s closest friendship, warns New Zealand opposition leader Don Brash. Picture is the entire NZ Infantry Regiment on a parade called to see who’s turn it was to defend New Zealand. Our Kiwi cousins are feeling out of the defence loop and well they should. With Helen Clark thinking 1% of GDP being a reasonable amount to pay for an insurance policy she is now discovering that her no-claim bonuses are useless.
Since being elected in 1999, the Clark Government has closed down the air force’s combat wing and reduced the navy to a two-frigate fleet. Clark refused to join the US-led invasion of Iraq, and Washington expressed its displeasure through some unusually sharp diplomatic comments about New Zealand’s attitude, and by pointedly refusing to include New Zealand in talks on the Australia-US free trade deal. Since then, Clark has committed both troops and money to reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.Can you imagine Australia closing down the RAAF? No way. Even if times are bad, to close down a complete system means you have no national inventory should a need arise. You can’t say ‘Oops we have a war coming up – lets start an Airforce. Stupid – which is why no other country has ever done it. Except New Zealand. Except Helen Clark. However, I stopped feeling sorry for them when they voted her in. Sure they have been with us though thick and thin but often cousins mature at a different rate – swing left – dance by yourself. Sure – go all warm and fuzzy, give all your money to social services and beach access to the Maoris but don’t whinge when the more mature people in the family don’t invite you to our parties, or don’t tell you what is going on. And if you don’t want US nuclear powered and (maybe) nuclear armed ships to darken your ports then they can come to Sydney to spend their R & R money. Nuclear free port, nuclear free suburb – what a joke. Even in the bad old ‘Cold War’ days no Russian Officers, that I was aware of, kept a list of left-wing , nuclear free city and state institutions so they could check that they weren’t being targeted. Yes, it is only an opposition leader doing what he should, but the problem has been around for years and the longer New Zealand is out of the loop the less use and help they are to us and the world. They don’t contribute any more and we don’t care anymore.