The trans-Tasman relationship

While I have reservations over aspects of the EU, I love the fact they have a common currency and almost no borders. Hence I am a fan of New Zealand and removing as many barriers as possible.

I don’t see much merit in political union (unless both islands gained statehood giving us more grunt in the Senate) but am persuadable on a joint currency etc.

The possible revival of the ANZACs could be hugely popular, as on both sides of the Tasman becomes more and more hallowed by the public. The Herald reports:

New Zealand and Australian defence chiefs will soon begin discussions on setting up a joint rapid-response force.

The shape, size and operations of the proposed force – disclosed by the Herald in May – have yet to be considered, but Prime Minister John Key and his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd, believe the close ties between the two defence forces should be formalised in a new transtasman unit.

Whether it is practical or not has to be worked through, bu the principle is exciting. It may also give opportunities for NZ soldiers to serve on missions they previously could not.

Colin Espiner also reports on the travel plans:

Trans-Tasman travel is about to get easier, but passport-free visits are unlikely.

Travellers between New Zealand and Australia will be able to use electronic passport control and bypass queues for baggage screening from the end of this year, under changes to New Zealand airport arrangements announced by Prime Minister John Key in Canberra yesterday.

Electronic-passport kiosks, called smart gates, will be installed at Auckland International Airport’s arrival hall in December and in Wellington and Christchurch from the middle of next year.

The kiosks will be available to departing passengers in Auckland from late next year and in Wellington and Christchurch by mid-2011.

They allow travellers aged over 18 with an electronic passport containing a biometric chip to be able to scan their own passports and use facial-biometric technology to identify themselves and go to departure gates without going through immigration control.

Most New Zealand and Australian passengers arriving in New Zealand will no longer automatically have their baggage screened under changes announced by the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.

I like self service kiosks. Air New Zealand has done a brilliant job with its technology and the e-pass and m-pass. Queues are almost a thing of the past. If this can be extended to security checks, all the better.

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