The jokes about New Zealand and Australia have been many and diverse. They have included ones about sheep shagging and convicts; our accents – how New Zealanders notice the emphasis on the “e” in the Australian accent for example, but also somewhat more seriously about the relatively disarmed state of the New Zealand Defence Force. We also trade jokes about theirbiological hazards (Australia after all has the Mouse Spider, the Funnel Web and the Redback Spider; Taipans, Brown, Black and Tiger snakes; box jellyfish, sharks, crocs and alligators to round of their arsenal of dangerous animals). In return they tell us about how scared they are of our volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami’s and so forth.
But what about the joke that New Zealand is the “7th State of Australia”? I have heard from Americans trying to find a way of deriding me in the old Yahoo! Group chat rooms where political discourse could turn quite fiery and even insulting. I always pointed out that New Zealand is a sovereign country. Sometimes I got the impression that they were just seeing how hard they could yank my leg, and other times I had the impression they were seriously trying to put New Zealand down.
But what if – shock, horror – it is actually true?
From the most credible place possible – the Australian Parliament – I have found a link to the formal Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. Article 6 “Definitions” in the Preamble, states:
“The States shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia,”
So, officially, Australia considers New Zealand to be a part of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Except that it is not. And even if New Zealanders were interested in becoming an Australian State – which I very, very much doubt – there are constitutional issues that could stop it dead, permanently before the process of merging even started. One would be the Treaty of Waitangi and the settlement deads done with Maori. Were this to be overturned, there would be civil war – if English New Zealand has taken this long to reconcile with Maori Aotearoa and still has the problems it does, I cannot ever see Maori standing for the likely necessary changes
Perhaps in recognition of this, there needs to be in New Zealand’s constitutional framework a clause in the relevant Act. It would need to be stipulating that Article 6 of the Preamble of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia shall not be applicable to New Zealand with regards to being considered a State of Australia.
But unless and until a time when the suggested change occurs, by the Preamble of the Constitution of Australia, New Zealand is officially an Australian State.
Or is it?