Are Australia and New Zealand merging?

The countries of Australia and New Zealand have long enjoyed close relations. The two nations fought together during World War I and citizens can move freely between both countries for work. They’re close enough, in fact, that there’s been increasing talk by politicians of combining them together.

Is this some kind of crazy joke? According to a recent television poll by Television New Zealand, it’s not. 37% of New Zealanders thought the country “would be better off” merging with their nearby neighbor. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Don McKinnon has offered similar remarks, calling an Australia/New Zealand merger “inevitable” though it may be many years before it becomes reality. The reasons for the proposed union are largely economic, with some in New Zealand suggesting the country is falling behind Australia in key figures like per capita income and investment.

Despite the rumblings of merger, a large number of New Zealand’s citizens are profoundly against the measure. In a separate poll, 71% of New Zealand residents were opposed to the idea of New Zealand as an Australian state. Current New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has also indicated the proposed merger was “not going to happen.”

Considering the proud independent character of New Zealand’s citizens, the merger talk seems surprising. Here’s hoping New Zealand can put such talk behind them.