New Zealand and Australia are separated by a strip of water, and the two countries are separated by the Tasman Sea. The relationship between the two countries has also gained a proper term “trans-Tasman relationship”. Since they belong to the Commonwealth of Nations, New Zealand and Australia have long had close economic and trade ties and strategic alliances. However, in recent years, the relationship between the two countries has dropped to a low point due to immigration issues.
Australia has implemented the so-called “501 Act” since 2015, under which Australia can deport anyone who has been sentenced to more than 12 months in prison or convicted of child sex crimes on character grounds. Between January 1, 2015 and February 28, 2022, a total of 2572 people were deported from Australia to New Zealand.
New Zealand police and politicians believe that Australia’s “501 Act” is the driving force behind New Zealand’s gang crimes, and it needs to be responsible for more than 13,000 crimes in the past seven years. In addition, two-thirds of the New Zealanders deported by Australia are Maori or of Aboriginal descent, and Australia has also been accused of deporting people due to racial discrimination.
However, due to labor shortages, the Australian government has recently expressed goodwill towards New Zealand and reformed its immigration policy. The Australian Home Affairs Minister even said in a recent speech in New Zealand: “We are not just friends, we are family.”
If you see the flags of New Zealand and Australia at the same time, I am afraid that few people can immediately tell which country the two flags belong to.
The upper left of the two national flags is the British flag, indicating the history of colonization, and the southern cross pattern on the right, indicating that the country is located in the southern hemisphere. The dark blue background color represents that the country is surrounded by sea. The only difference lies in the pattern and number of stars. .
It has not been a day or two since New Zealand and Australia had conflicts over the national flag. New Zealand asked Australia to change its flag on the grounds that its own flag appeared earlier. Australia believes that New Zealand should be regarded as a part of Australia, not even a country. Where does the national flag come from? Because according to the Australian Constitution, “New Zealand State” together with the existing six states should be the territory of Australia.
In desperation, at the end of October 2014, the then New Zealand Prime Minister John Kay announced that he would push for a referendum on changing the national flag, and expected to vote on the style of the national flag in 2015 and the final vote on whether to change the national flag in 2016.
On August 10, 2015, a 12-member panel for the selection of the new national flag selected 40 works from more than 10,000 submissions, and finally selected 4 works in September. These four works became the voting items for the style referendum in November of that year. The blue, black and silver fern flag stood out and entered the final voting session. The then Prime Minister John Kay even often wore the badge of the blue, black and silver fern flag on various occasions, expressing his determination to promote the change of the national flag.
However, all this is a waste of time. Most people are not interested in changing the national flag. After deciding on the style of the new flag, the New Zealand government held a final vote on whether to change the flag in March 2016. Before the vote, a research institution conducted a public opinion survey. Only 30% of the people hoped that the blue, black and silver fern flag would become the new national flag, and as many as 31% did not want to change the national flag at all. “Opinion leaders” from all walks of life also provided various reasons for their opposition. Actor Sam Neal, famous for “Jurassic Park”, even thought that the blue, black and silver fern flag was like a “beach towel”.
New Zealand’s then Prime Minister John Kaye wears the blue black and silver fern flag badge as he watches the rugby match between New Zealand and Australia on 31 October 2015 in London, England
Unsurprisingly, New Zealand is maintaining its current flag, according to statistics released by the National Flag Change Commission. The national flag campaign, which took nearly two years and cost more than 26 million New Zealand dollars, came to an end, but this did not really resolve the conflict between the two countries on the national flag. Many New Zealanders are not unaware of the similarity of the flag to Australia, but they think it is Australia that should change the flag. New Zealand’s 2018 acting prime minister, Winston Peters, is one of New Zealanders who hold similar views.
In July 2018, during New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters repeated the old story in an interview, claiming that Australia had counterfeited the New Zealand flag for more than 100 years: “It’s time for Australia to People design their own national flag.”
Since Peters raised the national flag issue at a time when the relationship between New Zealand and Australia was delicate, many media believed that Peters was using the national flag issue to express his dissatisfaction with Australia’s immigration policies in recent years. In the past three years, more than 1,300 New Zealanders have been expelled from Australia, and two-thirds of them are Maori or have aboriginal descent from South Pacific island countries.
australian prime minister anthony albanese
There are more than 600,000 New Zealand citizens residing in Australia, equivalent to 1/10 of New Zealand’s population.
New Zealand and Australia have always been regarded as close allies, and citizens of the two countries have a close relationship. There are more than 600,000 New Zealand citizens residing in Australia, equivalent to 1/10 of New Zealand’s population. However, Australia changed its immigration policy from 2014. According to Section 501 of Australia’s “Immigration Act”, any foreign resident who has a criminal record or is considered a threat to the country may be deported by the Australian government for failing to pass the “character test”.
In February 2018 alone, Australia canceled nearly 1,300 visas, more than half of which were held by New Zealanders. Some people even have only New Zealand citizenship, but they have spent their entire lives in Australia and never really set foot on New Zealand soil.
In July 2018, Australian authorities detained a 17-year-old New Zealander for “bad behavior” and even sent him to a detention facility for adults. The New Zealand government was outraged, thinking that this was abuse of minors.
Andrew Little, New Zealand’s Minister of Justice at the time, accused the Australian authorities of being “mercenary”, claiming that the deportation of New Zealanders violated the concept of human rights shared by the two countries. Then-Immigration Minister Peter Dutton fired back, accusing New Zealand of not contributing enough to the New Zealand-Australia defense relationship.
While Australia’s immigration policies have strained relations between the two countries, the Australian government has shown little sign of easing. The Australian Senate even wanted to vote on the Immigration Amendment (Enhanced Character Tests) Bill 2021 in March 2022, but the vote was delayed until after the federal election at the last minute.
The revised bill will give the government more powers to deport more people to New Zealand. Currently, the Australian government can only cancel a person’s visa if he has served more than one year in prison. If the revised bill is passed, as long as a person’s crime can be sentenced to more than two years, the Australian government can directly deport him.
However, Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, who took office in June, said changes could be made on the repatriation issue. Albanese said 501 would remain in place to deport some immigrants in due course, “but we’re going to apply some common sense here.” That is to say, if someone has lived in Australia all his life and “has no connection with New Zealand”, it is obviously against “common sense” to deport him.
People call for the resignation of Senator Fraser Anning in Melbourne, Australia, March 19, 2019. The senator previously blamed New Zealand’s immigration policy for the Christchurch terrorist attack
competition for labor
In fact, the Australian Prime Minister is willing to slow down the process of tightening the “501 Act”, largely because of the labor shortage faced by Australia.
Australia is a country that relies heavily on external manpower. But Australia’s strict border controls in response to the outbreak have led to an outflow of foreign migrant workers and foreign students. In addition, after the outbreak of the epidemic, employers laid off a large number of employees and required employees to work remotely, resulting in a large number of vacancies, and even a severe shortage of restaurant waiters.
Since the reopening of the Australian border on December 21, 2021, although the number of immigrants has gradually recovered, businesses still have to wait for several months to bring in employees with the appropriate skills. The Australian Chamber of Commerce has called for the annual migration program to be expanded to 200,000 people to ensure the country’s economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic.
However, immigration figures show 914,000 permanent and temporary visas were “blocked” as of mid-August this year. Of these, 370,000 visas were visitor, student and skilled visas under the temporary category. Australian Home Affairs Minister Claire O’Neill said the minister had redeployed resources and added more staff to resolve the visa impasse.
New Zealand is also facing a labor shortage, but for different reasons than Australia. For New Zealanders, the temptation to work abroad is too great. In 2011, New Zealand experienced a massive population outflow. At the time, Australia’s mining boom was attracting many New Zealanders, who flocked to Australia in hopes of earning six-figure salaries. According to media reports, another mining company in Australia decided to recruit workers in New Zealand with a high salary of 300,000 Australian dollars (about 1.43 million yuan) per year because it could not recruit workers in the country. The CEO of the Perth-based mining company even made an appearance in New Zealand’s local media in person, inviting New Zealanders to jump ship.
The ministry estimated in a report to the government in February that about 50,000 New Zealand citizens could leave New Zealand in 2023 as border restrictions ease, a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment chief said. Some media people said that the net migration of Australians to New Zealand is so small that it can be ignored, but “there are more New Zealanders who go to Australia than Australians who choose to come to New Zealand”.
On the one hand, Australia repatriates criminals to New Zealand, and on the other hand, it is concerned about New Zealand’s insufficient labor force. For New Zealand, Australia must be a troublesome neighbor.