The trans-Tasman relationship

March 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Seated across from each other in a New York restaurant they made for an unlikely couple.

On one side of the table was , one of ’s most successful prime ministers; darling of the political Right, bogeyman of the Left after taking the role as America’s deputy sheriff in the Pacific, and becoming the villain in the Tampa affair.

His lunch companion was , the socially liberal former New Zealand prime minister, a flag-flying Iraq war opponent, standard bearer for the Left-wing social democratic movement – and the woman who even now, four years on from losing the election, can spark visceral dislike among many on the Right.

Mates? Of course, says Howard, after they caught up recently for a chinwag in New York.

“We don’t just exchange Christmas cards.”

It reflects well on both Howard and Clark that they worked well together, despite being from different sides of the political spectrum.

 But historic and geographical ties have not always been enough to put the relationship on a friendly footing. Before Howard and Clark it was Lange and Hawke, Muldoon and Fraser. Tension, backstabbing, and suspicion reigned.

Fraser was an idiot, and Muldoon a bully. Hawke thought Lange was a flake, and he was right. There was also Bolger and Keating – Keating was just simply untrustworthy.

Gillard and Key, again polar opposites politically, have forged even stronger bonds than Clark and Howard.

Key says getting the personal dynamics in the relationship right is “critical”. With Gillard, it helps that their partners get on as well.

Once all the official business was out of the way during their two-day summit in Queenstown last month, Key and Gillard escaped to the exclusive Millbrook resort for dinner with partners Bronagh and Tim. They did the same in Melbourne last year.

“We have a no officials, casual dinner, have a drink together,” Key said.

A good relationship between leaders is no guarantee of success, but it is almost a precursor.

The big unknown is a possible government – though he and Key have already struck up a good relationship, and speak to each other regularly.

Howard, meanwhile, is confident Abbot can only be good for New Zealand.

“He’s got a good start. His wife is a New Zealander.”

Heh, that may be useful.

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11 Responses to “The trans-Tasman relationship”

  1. Black with a Vengeance (1,868 comments) says:

    I can almost hear Shearer strumming Waltzing Matilda while Gillard warbles away …

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  2. tvb (4,560 comments) says:

    Personalities do come into the relationship Who could imagine getting on with Muldoon Fraser and Muldon must have had quite a significant personality clash. But despite that they were able to conclude CER though that was probably more to do with Doug Anthony whom I assume Mudoon did get on with. Yes Lange was a flake but the ANZUS thing must have caused Hawke problems with his left wing saying why cannot we be more like NZ. After all NZ does have the right to dissolve the treaty unilaterally which would leave Australia high and dry. Lange did stop short of that though at one point it was threatened I seem to recall.

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  3. ChardonnayGuy (1,232 comments) says:

    Personally, I haven’t been able to stand any of the Australian Prime Ministers, Coalition or ALP, since Keating was defeated. I felt sorry for Fraser for having to put up with Muldoon, and Lange and Hawke evidently had headaches trying to deal with the ANZUS schism. As for the Liberals, John Hewson would have been a far more preferable Prime Minister to Howard, just as anyone would have been to Rudd and Gillard. Or Abbott for that matter (although Turnbull would be preferable).

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  4. tvb (4,560 comments) says:

    To the Australian Prime Minister we are of little more importance that the the State of Victoria, though I presume they think we are more like Tasmania in terms of our policies and attitudes. On balance it is probably better to have two sovereigns operating in the South West Pacific of very similar views and outlook. However that will diverge over time. We do not have the same security risk as Australia because of our relative isolation, though if Australia is seriously threatened we would lend assistance. Australia is the bigger strategic prize especially for Indonesia though for now that risk is largely dissipated.

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  5. Don the Kiwi (1,821 comments) says:

    Whose surprised that Key and Gillard get on – they’re both liberal progressives – Gillard has a left economic policy, Key has a right wing economic policy – but they’re both liberal progressives.
    Key is a disappointment.

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  6. H. Upmann (2 comments) says:

    Good call on Lange and Keating. Keating had the ethics of a drug dealer operating outside a school gate.

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  7. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    Fuck me with a barge pole.

    Don the Kiwi. I never ever thought we would hear YOU say that.
    “Say it again soldier”

    Key is a disappointment.

    Probably becuase he ain’t converted to Catholism 8O :roll: :lol:

    I guess that means you won’t be fundraising for our local star any more then?

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  8. Sector 7g (242 comments) says:

    “Gillard and Key, again polar opposites politically”

    Haha. Tui advert.

    I would have settled with “Key is a lot further left than Gillard but they still manage to get along”.

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  9. mikemikemikemike (334 comments) says:

    Can someone explain to me why Lange was a flake? (without a ‘because he was Labour!’ rant)

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  10. unaha-closp (1,067 comments) says:

    Can someone please explain how Helen Clark was “a flag-flying Iraq war opponent”? We had troops occupying Iraq for years.

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  11. edhunter (554 comments) says:

    Yesterday I had the dubious pleasure of attending a QUT Business Leaders Forum where Aunty Helen was the keynote speaker. The woman is still an ideal cure for Insomnia how she managed to win 3 elections & narrowly missed winning a 4th (96) is really beyond me. I suppose it speaks volume for what a shipwreck National was at the time.

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