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Q+A Poll – Should NZ & Australia Become One ?

Q+A Poll – Should NZ & Australia Become One Country?

In recent weeks research company, UMR polled 1,000 people in Australia and another 1,000 in NZ on the topic of NZ becoming the 7th state of Australia, the results are recorded below.

Background to the poll, interview with UMR MD and Q+A discussion with Phil Goff, Sir Don McKinnon and Australian Liberal National MP, Peter Slipper have been transcribed below.

Q+A is repeated on TVNZ 7 at 9.10pm on Sunday nights and 10.10am and 2.10pm on Mondays. The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning’s Q+A can also be seen on tvnz.co.nz at, http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news


Would you support or oppose New Zealand joining Australia and becoming the 7th Australian state?


Strongly oppose - 26% / 45%

Oppose - 26% / 26%

Support - 28% / 17%

Strongly support - 9% / 7%

Unsure - 11% / 5%

Total Oppose - 52% / 71%

Total Support - 37% / 24%

If New Zealand became part of Australia do you think New Zealand's economy would be…


Better off - 20% / 37%

Worse off - 32% / 27%

Makes no difference - 34% / 25%

Unsure - 14% / 11%

NET Better off -12% / 10%

Do you think that NZ becoming the 7th state of Australia is an idea worth debating?

Yes - 41%

No - 58%

Unsure - 1%

If New Zealand did join Australia, would the following be better, worse or about the same in New Zealand?

Better / Worse / About the same / Unsure

Ease of travel to Australia - 65% / 3% / 29% / 4%

Defence - 64% / 8%. / 20% / 9%

The NZ economy - 43% / 23% / 23% / 11%

Your personal standard of living - 30% / 12% / 48% / 9%

Job security - 28% / 20% / 41% / 10%

Health system - 27% / 23% / 40% / 11%

Lifestyle - 25% / 18% / 53% / 5%

Education - 22% / 16% / 53% / 9% /

Law and order - 20% / 25% / 47% / 8%

Immigration - 19% / 36% / 35% / 10%

Values - 9% / 41% / 43% / 7%

Race relations - 7% / 60% / 26% / 6%

Culture - 7% / 51% / 37% / 5%

Environment - 6% / 39% / 49% / 6%

Points of interest:

- UMR’s John Utting: Older New Zealanders, men and people in New South Wales most pro-union; New Zealanders more concerned about national identity than wealth

- Sir Don McKinnon: NZ-Australia union “probably inevitable” but an issue for “the next generation”

- Phil Goff: New Zealand will never submerge its identity into Australia’s
- Peter Slipper: If European countries who have fought recent wars against each other can have a common currency, why not our countries?

- Peter Slipper: Why not a confederation, with New Zealand as an equal partner and ties short of full union?

- Peter Slipper: Australians would accept an ANZAC dollar

- Phil Goff: A common currency wouldn’t be an ANZAC dollar, “it’ll be the Australian dollar, that’s the reality”. That will put New Zealanders out of business

- Phil Goff: Treaty of Waitangi not a make or break issue, even though Maori Party voters most strongly opposed to union

- Sir Don McKinnon: New Zealand and Australia will be driven together by a desire for freer movement, easier taxes and the like


In 1901 the six Australian colonies formed a federation, a new country effectively, glorious federation they call it, New Zealand came close to joining them, we had after all briefly been part of New South Wales before the Treaty of Waitangi. At the Australasian Constitutional Conference in 1890 however New Zealand backed away from the idea, referring to the width of the Tasman Sea particularly, Premier Sir John Hall said there were 1200 reasons not to join the Federation, but in parting said:

'I almost envy my Australian brethren the opportunity of joining them in the great work before them, I cannot help regretting that for the present, circumstances render it impossible for New Zealand to do so. It is said that history repeats itself' said Sir John Hall 'and we shall, I feel confident, have another instance of it.'

Is it time therefore as Sir John Hall said to have another instance of it, the two governments are continuing towards a single economic market and something like 400,000 New Zealanders already live in Australia. To this day the Australian constitution lists New Zealand as one of the states that may be admitted to the Federation. So what do ordinary Kiwis and ordinary Australians think about becoming one?

Market research firm UMR has in recent weeks been conducting the first trans-Tasman poll on such a union, asking whether New Zealand should become Australia's seventh state. A thousand people in each country were asked the question and we can reveal the results this morning. UMR's Managing Director is John Utting, he's a veteran pollster known on both sides of the ditch and he spoke to Australian correspondent, Steve Marshall in our Sydney offices.



JOHN UTTING – UMR Managing Director
In both countries people weren’t keen on the proposition and in fact most people were against it, in New Zealand only a quarter of New Zealanders, roughly about 24% favour the country becoming part of the Commonwealth of Australia, 71% opposed. In Australia the numbers are actually sort of closer, people are in fact more in favour of the idea with 37% of Australians supporting the idea, and 52% opposing. There are some very interesting kind of demographics, the key ones for the New Zealanders, basic oldies 60 plus who while still opposed are much more strongly supportive of the idea, in Australia surprisingly in the state of New South Wales, support is particularly strong and both countries the common element of support is much stronger amongst men than females.

So what is the main reason for people opposing the merger?

JOHN It's really interesting, in both countries the drivers for this are actually a bit different. In New Zealand it really goes to the core of what New Zealanders have a very strong sense of national identity, and part of its national identity in the sense, things like the environment, race relations, you know cultural issues, you know basically New Zealanders see the country as quite a unique culture and there's a real fear that this would be lost or compromised. In the Australian point of view it's kind of more sanguine in the sense that Australians just don’t think they'd get a lot out of it.

STEVE And for those in favour, why would they care?

JOHN Well look, in New Zealand a strong driver is overwhelmingly the economic benefits that would flow from it. This is the really key thing that sort of moves the debate along, and my view is the economic circumstances will really determine whether this comes to pass or not. In Australia the economic imperative isn't so great, in Australia it's more of what I'd call the ANZAC tradition, the shared sort of cultural national values between the two countries.



PAUL That’s the polling, you’ve just seen John Utting of UMR.

Joining us to debate the issues are the Opposition Leader and former Foreign Affairs Minister of course Phil Goff, and former Commonwealth Secretary General and Chair of the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, Sir Don McKinnon, also former Foreign Minister. And also with us, very early this morning in Maroochydore in Queensland is the Australian Liberal National MP Peter Slipper, and Peter is a former junior minister in the Howard government, a frequent visitor to New Zealand, and past chairman of the Australian House of Representatives Constitutional Affairs Committee, and this committee several years ago recommended such were the synergies really between our two countries that union really would be desirable. Peter Slipper I hope you can hear me and good morning.

PAUL Let's get quite clear on these figures, because they're complicated figures, 41% of New Zealanders are prepared to open the debate about New Zealand becoming the seventh state of Australia. 41% of New Zealanders say well let's have a debate, does that number surprise you?

PHIL GOFF The 41% simply says, oh look yeah let's have a discussion about it what are the pros, what are the cons, but the important figure is the figure that’s three to one against New Zealand losing its national identity being swallowed up as seventh state of Australia, and I'm not surprised at that, most of us as Kiwis are proud of our national identity, we can't imagine a world without going along cheering for the Kiwis or the All Blacks, or you know our national soccer team, why would we give those things up to be swallowed up to be part, just another state in Australia.

PAUL Are you surprised by that Don?

DON McKINNON Not really. Look, it's a debate that’s gonna go on, and it's been going on, but look no political leader in New Zealand is going to win an election advocating this issue. I believe it's inevitable but it's probably the next generation and it's going to be driven by people who actually want it because of the trans-Tasman activity will be that much more intense.

PAUL Let me look at these other more definite figures though, we have 52% of Australian's are opposed to a union, but 37% of Australians favour a federation. 71% of New Zealanders are opposed, but a quarter support union, they say it quite straight, let's go, a quarter of New Zealanders, that’s the figure that amazes me.

DON Well you see we've got nearly half a million New Zealanders living in Australia anyway, so there's a tremendous number of family connections. A lot of people going backwards and forwards and look where our incomes are separating. I think there's a lot of people thinking well if we're gonna get that poor in relation to Australia maybe we should be catching those coat tails, that’s something that'll be continually debated.

PAUL Let me go to Peter Slipper now the Liberal National MP. 37% in this research, 37% of Australians want union, now what do you make of that figure?

PETER SLIPPER Well I think Australians basically are relaxed about the issue. I represent more New Zealanders I suspect than any member of parliament in the world other than someone in the New Zealand parliament, because there are 20,000 New Zealanders here on the Sunshine Coast. I think it's unfortunate that when the survey poll was taken such an emotive question was put, I mean there are many other issues of closer association, things like a single currency, maybe there could be a trans-Tasman federation whereby the six states of Australia and New Zealand together become a confederation with equal rights on either side of the ditch. I just think that in 2010 people are starting to look at what we can achieve together, and our shared values, and it's not about our becoming the west island or it's not about our forcing the All Blacks to don Wallaby colours, I think it's about how can we improve the quality of living for people on both sides of the Tasman.

PHIL Yeah let me agree with Peter on that. Look I disagree with Don's thing that it's inevitable, I don’t think New Zealand will ever submerge its identity into Australia, but obviously we want to get the best of both worlds and to a large extent we're doing that, as Mike Moore said before, since 1983 we've had Closer Economic Relations with Australia, our trade has grown faster with Australia than any other part of the world, we have a single economic market that we're working on under respective governments over the last five six seven years, I think we can get the best of both worlds, we can get the advantages economically of being part of Australia ....

PAUL How can you possibly say we're getting the best of both worlds, Australia's booming along doing fabulously, we are falling further and further behind..

PHIL And we're very glad that Australia's doing well because it's our largest market.

DON Well they are, I mean they are 20% of our export trade, 20% of our imports, they have a huge influence on our economy, and it is important that we eliminate all the barriers we can to better economic activity.

PAUL Let me talk about what those further eliminations may be, but I wonder if there's also a suggestion in the research that John Utting's done that New Zealanders are inclined to cut off their nose to spite their face. What do we make of this? Kiwis make it clear in our research, they thought union with New Zealand and Australia would provide the following, a better New Zealand economy, better Defence, better job security, better education, better lifestyle, better personal standard of living and of course make travel easier – despite all of that, a vast majority in our research believing a union would achieve all of that, no they still don’t want to have anything to do with a union, here's what John Utting said about that.

John Utting: 'New Zealand is a bi-racial society, Pacific orientation, Australia's cultural orientation is different, they're pushing it apart, economics is pushing it together, it's really the interplay of a balance of those two forces which I think will ultimately determine what happens.'

PAUL See what I mean, culture and heritage over wealth and jobs and growth, are we silly?

DON No well, I think I mean Phil made the very point I was making, no political leader's going to win an election on this one, and I wouldn’t expect Phil to suggest it. I'm saying by the time the next generation comes round, technology, the movement of people everywhere, New Zealanders won't want to be in the situation of paying taxes in both countries, filing different tax returns, all the time going through Immigration and Customs, they want to try and eliminate all those things.

PHIL But we can deal with all of those things that Don's talking about and we are dealing with it, you know for example now any money that’s in your retirement fund, your superannuation fund in Australia can be transferred to the KiwiSaver here. We've got new electronic means and special cues for Australians and New Zealanders. But New Zealanders are proud of their culture, they are proud of their history, they are proud of their sense of identity. As Peter said before Australians are more relaxed about it because we simply become a seventh state and they maintain their identity, but the other way around, we give away our identity, we simply become one small state in Australia without our own identity.

PAUL Why do we have to give away our identity, I mean I'm sure the Tasmanians have an identity....

PHIL Well to be part of Australia that’s what you are you're Australian, and yet we are not Australian we're proud of being Kiwis.

PAUL Let me bring in Peter Slipper again, Peter your committee, this Constitutional Committee under John Howard, you said the strong ties between the two countries, and you were talking about the possibilities of further cooperation before, perhaps even a confederation, but your committee said the strong ties between the two countries the economic, cultural, migration, defence, governmental linkages, suggested an even closer relationship including the possibility of union, is both desirable and realistic. What is in it for Australia?

PETER Well I just want to make the point, this was an all party parliamentary committee and it was a unanimous result. What's in it for Australia is less than what is in it for New Zealand, I mean we get access to a larger market, but it's only a larger market by degree. New Zealand gets access to a much larger market. But I don’t think it's a question of New Zealand losing its identity, because this would be a process of evolution. I mean John Key and Kevin Rudd 12 months ago talked about a common border. If the countries of Europe which spent most of the 20th century fighting one another are able to have a common currency, how much easier should it be for us to have one across the ditch. Why on earth should an enduring power of attorney die when one leaves the airport in Brisbane to fly to Auckland. I mean there are so many things that we could do while both countries remain two countries, the process of integration could be evolutionary and I just think that by talking about New Zealand becoming a seventh state, that’s just about killing the process, because I can understand why New Zealanders don’t want to become a seventh state, but would they be prepared to become an equal partner in a trans-Tasman confederation, maybe a joint Defence policy, and so on.

DON That’s the evolutionary thing that it'll just go on for the next couple or three decades moving, and it'll be people driven because the people, not the politicians, it's the people that actually want freer movement, freer availability, freer access, and not have impediments.

PHIL And that’s exactly what CER and a single economic market has been about.

PAUL Peter Slipper what do you make of Phil Goff's fears of losing our identity and having to sing Advance Australia Fair at Eden Park?

PHIL Ha ha, Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi.

PETER Well, or having the All Blacks sort of wearing Wallaby colours and so on – look I just think that is unhelpful to talk about that sort of thing because I don’t believe anybody wasn’t New Zealand to lose its identity, and what we should be focusing on perhaps is closer association in the shorter term. There's a long way to go to improve the CER agreement, there's many more things we could do, for instance, mobile phone calls I'm told in New Zealand are extraordinarily expensive, why not allow all Australian companies to operate in New Zealand and vice versa, the consumer surely has to be the beneficiary. Look I think that we can achieve much closer integration, while we remain two countries you know in the short term, until this people driven process asks the two countries to basically become even closer.

DON But when we get politicians of this country beating up on Australian owned banks about every six months, that is not a good message, even though we know why they're here. They're going to be here for a long time, they’ve been here for a long time, but it's one of those things that defines to separate us more than it does unite us.

PAUL Peter what about a single currency now, I can't see – well here's what John Key the Prime Minister said about that when asked by Guyon last year about a single currency.

Guyon: 'You seem to be saying, which I think is quite interesting and quite significant, that barring that you think it's a good idea?

John Key: Well that’s my point, I think it's not a completely barmy idea, it's not one of those things you can say well this is just madness, I'm just saying I think there are benefits and pros and cons.'

PAUL So the question being, would New Zealanders be prepared to pay for their milk and bread and eggs at the dairy on Sunday morning with a ten dollar Australian note? Peter would Australians wear a currency called ANZAC do you think?

PETER Look I'm sure Australians would. I mean Dr Cullen many years ago suggested a joint currency, I think Peter Costello as our Treasurer rather unhelpfully suggested that New Zealand was free to adopt the Australian dollar, but I just think that it would be better if we had a trans-Tasman currency, an Australasian currency. Of course there'd have to be equitable representational arrangements for New Zealand on the resulting Reserve Bank board, but when you look at the fact that Europe and look at the history of Europe during the 20th century, most of those countries are able to have the Euro, and how much closer culturally and historically and geographically are we. I mean honestly we have a shared past and a shared future.

DON Let's pick up on Germany, France and Italy. Who would have thought they would have had the same currency now?

PETER And a common border.

DON And that’s the evolutionary factor that we should be looking at.

PHIL Hang on, there's something more relevant in that, look at the situation that Ireland is in at the moment. Ireland is caught in very recessionary conditions having to trade at the value of the Euro rather than having their own currency. Look, if there's going to be a currency it won't be a common currency, it'll be the Australian dollar, that’s the reality of it, that means that if the mineral wealth of Australia is doing really well and forcing up the value of the Australian dollar, that makes it so much harder for a whole lot of New Zealand manufacturers and producers, that will be trading at a dollar level that will be hugely uncomfortable and put a lot of them out of business.

DON But if we concentrate on just the dollar and the All Blacks, nothing will ever happen. We've really gotta go to those issues that are workable, need dealing with, and the big hard high profile ones they will evolve probably in 20 or 30 years time.

PAUL But isn't it extraordinary, let me go right back to the start that while Peter is telling us that even to ask should we become the seventh state of Australia, is probably inflammatory and setting all cooperation further back, you’ve still got 25% of New Zealanders in this survey who said let's go?

PHIL Yeah that’s the extraordinary thing, I think, when we can get the benefits of a closer economic relationship and a single economic market, what are the additional benefits of simply being the seventh state? As a Minister I frequently, and Don would have done the same, sat on joint ministerial councils with the Australians to watch the wrangling between the Federal government and the State governments. Frankly why would we want in New Zealand our decisions to be made in Canberra rather than here in Wellington? In Auckland we're worried about our decisions even being made in Wellington.

PAUL Well they're probably being made in Hong Kong at the moment aren't they?

PHIL Well I mean I think New Zealanders want to keep control of their own destiny insofar as you can in a multi-lateral world.

PAUL Yes, so you won't surrender sovereignty at all, okay.

PHIL Absolutely not.

PAUL Now there's one other thing about this… Back in 1901, Peter Slipper you'll be interested in this, the reason for the New Zealand parliament voting – it's not just the 1200 miles and the slowness with which Australia could defend us and so forth, it was concerns that we, I think native affairs is what they called it back in those days, but the involvement between the colonial community and the Maori people was evolving and so forth, and there was a feeling I think that that could not be understood in Canberra, that you people weren’t too flash on that particular area. That was a concern.

PETER Both countries have indigenous populations and both countries I think have understood the place that those populations have in the future and the past of the country and I think that we've moved a long way since 1901 in Australia, and I suspect also in New Zealand. I just think it's a complication but it's one that could be worked through.

PAUL Interestingly Don, in the research, when you do a breakdown of who is in favour or is opposed to any federation or confederation, or becoming the seventh state, the further right wing people are the more they want federation, or the more they want to become a seventh state. But Maori Party voters they are very very opposed to this idea. Would the Treaty of Waitangi ultimately be a complete barrier to full integration with Australia?

DON Well that is always a major factor in any New Zealand political decision and I think it's one of those cases where its more a case of ensuring that Maori are equal partners everywhere, but do not underestimate the number of Maori that now live in Australia, and commuting back and forwards all the time.

PHIL Yeah I don’t think that’s a make or break issue, I think it's about national identity, it's about making decisions in New Zealand for New Zealanders by New Zealanders, that really matter. We can have a closer relationship, we can get the best of both worlds, submerging ourselves into Australia is not required to achieve that.

PAUL Would the All Blacks Mr Slipper have to give up the black jersey, in any vision you have of a union?

PETER Oh look I think this is one of the issues that probably is very unhelpful to discuss, I think we could organise an arrangement whereby we had two national teams. Let's look at the UK I mean they have England Scotland Ireland and Wales, and there's no reason that we couldn’t do that across the Tasman. But one point I'd like to make is I'll be very interested to know what poll findings would be if the question asked was 'Do you support closer integration or perhaps a confederation across the Tasman rather than New Zealand becoming the seventh state?'.

PAUL Most interesting Peter Slipper, that'll be our next question in the next poll, thank you very much for getting up so early on a Sunday morning in Maroochydore and all the best. And Phil Goff for coming on and Don McKinnon, thank you very much.

PAUL Just to repeat those poll figures – of Australians 37% are in favour of a union, of New Zealanders becoming the seventh state. Of the New Zealanders, 24% of people tell us they want to see a union. But while 71% of New Zealanders are opposed only 52% of Australians are.


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