Barnaby Joyce may be all for making New Zealand the seventh Australian state, but there is very little interest in the idea from his counterparts across the ditch.
The trans-Tasman debate has reignited after the Nationals MP echoed the idea posed by outgoing New Zealand MP Jamie Strange in his valedictory speech last week.
Mr Strange used his farewell speech to “ponder the thought” of whether Australia and New Zealand could “become one country”.
“My personal view – and it’s only a personal view – is that New Zealanders shouldn’t rule that out,” he told parliament.
Mr Joyce picked up that idea and ran with it on Tuesday, telling the Today show there were many benefits for the countries merging, even if New Zealanders may not be on board.
And he was right, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said it was a “somewhat strange idea” posed by his outgoing party mate and one of the “few areas” where they disagree.
The leader of the opposition National Party Christopher Luxon laughed the idea back across the Tasman when asked if he thought a merger was a good idea.
“No, you‘re not seriously asking that question,” the National Party leader told reporters.
“No, there’s no way in hell we’re joining Australia.”
Even Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rejected the idea and poked fun at Mr Joyce for suggesting it.
“This isn‘t the first time that Barnaby Joyce has been confused about Australia and New Zealand being different countries,” he told reporters.
Party leaders were not the only ones left laughing at the suggestion, with many Australians struggling to believe the trans-Tasman merger wasn’t a piece of satire from The Betoota Advocate.
“Bloody hell, what did NZ do to deserve that?” one person wrote on Instagram.
“NZ is laughing so hard right now,” another wrote.
Others said there was little point backing Mr Joyce’s suggestion when he “couldn’t even work out which Matilda’s game to watch” during the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Some were more serious in knocking back the idea, given our country’s vastly different approaches to acknowledging and integrating our respective Indigenous cultures.
One person wrote: “If you want to know why we aren’t, have a little look into both constitutions and how one of us has a treaty and other doesn’t.”
“Australia could learn a lot from NZ,” another wrote.
“Acknowledging and celebrating your First Nations people for example.”
“Pfffft, there is no way we will respect our Indigenous people as much as New Zealand is at the moment.”
However, some people were on board – but only if Australia chose to merge with New Zealand. One X, formerly Twitter, user suggested “we can be the West Island”.
Under clause 6 of Australia’s Constitution, New Zealand is listed as an Australian state, which Mr Joyce said means “we can bring them in without a referendum”
Both Mr Joyce and Mr Strange said there were many benefits for the countries, including for the economy, our defence forces, and our sporting teams.
“There would certainly be economic benefits, economies of scale in the private and public sector, opening Aldi stores on our shores,” Mr Strange said in his speech.
Mr Joyce said it made little sense for our countries to have “two defence forces and two different monetary policies”.
And both men agreed it may be a big benefit to our national sporting teams.
“We could help them out with the cricket. They can help us out with rugby,” Mr Joyce said
The Albanese government recently eased citizenship rules for New Zealanders, allowing nearly half a million Kiwis living in the country to become Australian citizens.
About 670,000 New Zealanders currently live in Australia, with about 70,000 Australians in New Zealand.