WINSTON PETERS: Brownlee should have carried letter of apology

Kiwis living over the ditch are being clobbered by the Australian government and wondering what’s to come next.

On the face of it, the Australians’ proposal to make Kiwis pay full fees for tertiary education doesn’t seem to be a fair suck of the sav given that this policy has been in place for a long time and our treatment of Australians who have settled here.

We are supposed to be mates after all and throughout our histories there has been a constant flow of people to and from the two countries.

But mateship can only go so far.

Prime Minister Bill English isn’t happy with this new Australian policy and said the whole Anzac relationship should be up for debate. This exposes of course all the talk of chumminess between New Zealand and Australian leaders.

It was never true and the media should stop saying it.

Malcolm Fraser never liked Muldoon, and Bob Hawke didn’t like David Lange. And there have been more recent examples.

The PM dispatched his new Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee to Canberra to reportedly make the government’s displeasure known to his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop.

One didn’t have to be a fly on the wall to realise Gerry’s visit was a waste of time. And he kept on banging on about our marvellous relationship, the recent breaches of which was meant to be the purpose of his visit.

But the Australians have a point.

There has always been a level of abuse in the ebb and flow between the two countries: criminals have used it as an escape route; others skipped away to elude creditors or messy personal lives.

What changed during the 1990s was foreign nationals using New Zealand as a springboard backdoor entry to Australia.
They came to New Zealand, gained PR, and then bolted over the ditch as soon as they could, lured by better money and a warmer climate.

The Aussies didn’t mind New Zealanders but they sure got brassed off when non-New Zealanders started doing that to them.
Thousands of people who were not born in New Zealand have done this.

Now, with the Australian economy hitting tougher times, the Aussie politicians want to tighten things up.

If anyone should be blamed, it has to be Labour, National and those other parties who all turned a blind eye while letting immigrants use our country as a springboard to somewhere else. These New Zealand politicians never ever consulted Australia about it.

So one thing was missing when Gerry Brownlee fronted up to Julie Bishop in Canberra. He should have been carrying a letter signed by all those political parties apologising saying New Zealand is sorry and won’t do it again.

Then he could have said: “Let us now work on restoring our special Anzac relationship.”

By the way, back in the 1990s New Zealand First was warning time after time what the consequences would be if we didn’t stop this abuse. It would be a good idea if some of the media acknowledged that, rather than lump all politicians in the same boat.