Alison Mau: I’ve had enough of Australia

After 24 years working and bringing up a family in New Zealand, Alison Mau has had enough of the attitude of her country of birth, Australia. (Photo: Chris McKeen/Fairfax NZ

Alison Mau: I’ve had enough of Australia, I’m downloading the forms for New Zealand citizenship

OPINION: Music can soothe the pain of a relationship gone sour, and so, feeling melancholy this week, I put a record on. Cold Chisel. Not because it’s Australian, or because I am, but it’s the music I grew up with so it has a poignancy anyhow. You got nothing I want/You got nothing I need…

I hadn’t paid much attention to my album choice, just pulled it off the rack and dropped the needle; nevertheless as the lovely vinyl sound burst into life, there was Jimmy Barnes, strumming my pain. I don’t want to see you again/I don’t want you for a friend …

You’ve made that very clear, Australia, but I can’t help the grieving.

Every close relationship has its rocky times; most siblings have their petty disputes that can flare into proper estrangement. You hope you can mend the bond, you slap on your brave face and tell anyone who asks (put on your best Gerry Brownlee voice for this) “Yeah, we’re still good – solid as!”

Georgia Herdman, Paris Dallow and Charlotte Rankin are all 19, all New Zealanders, and all studying at Federal University in Ballarat, Australia. They are the lucky ones. From next year, their younger brothers or sisters will pay three times more in fees than their classmates, because they’re Kiwis. “It makes us feel like we’re no longer welcome, after such a long history between the two countries,” says Dallow.

Georgia Herdman (left), Paris Dallow and Charlotte Rankin are all 19, all New Zealanders, and all studying in Australia. They are the last lucky ones. (Photo: Luka Kauzlaric/Fairfax Australia)

But for that to be true, for the wounds to heal, each party has to at least try, right?

If your BFF won’t engage, that bond is pretty much doomed. The cold act that will kill a mateship, a love affair dead on the spot, is a breach of trust.

It’s not as if we hadn’t seen the signs. The erosion of the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia, the little slights that belie our two countries’ long alliance, have been peeling back the ANZAC spirit for years as the Aussies turn inwards.

100 years after Australia and New Zealand forged a bond on the battlefield of the Somme, has Australia stretched things too far? Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and New Zealand Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee had a frosty meeting in Sydney last week. (Photo: Reuters)

I don’t want you hanging around/I don’t mind just putting you down…

The really tragic thing is that it’s not ordinary Australians who’ve bullied us into submission. It’s the politicians, with their ice-water- for-blood, that have knocked the friendship on the head. Politicians like to think they’re a cut above the ordinary sheila or bloke in the IQ department, and perhaps they are, but the Australian Government have not a couple of cents worth of EQ to rub together.

When they announced this week that New Zealand students would now pay up to triple the amount for their Australian tertiary training, they sprang it on us without warning. No mention of the plan when Malcolm Turnbull spoke on the phone to Bill English just one workday before.

After meeting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this week, our new foreign affairs minister Brownlee was the emotionally battered partner, insisting the relationship is still “special.”

Trying to save face was such a natural thing to do. So embarrassing when you realise you’ve been had.

It’s for money of course, and when their Budget 2017 is read in Canberra on Tuesday, we’ll know how much they’re hoping to scrape up at the expense of Kiwi students. They need the dough, but it’ll be a couple of hundred million at most. A bit of cold cash and another small cut to add to the others, without a thought for what it does to a hundred-year bond.

I came here for work 24 years ago, I’ve birthed two new Kiwis, paid tax and been no burden on the welfare or health systems. But had I needed support, as a New Zealand permanent resident, it would have been there for me; in return, if you choose to go and live in the land of my birth you’d better expect diddly squat.

Do I sound a wee bit miffed? You bet I am. I have a daughter at an Australian University, but it’s not that; she started her degree this year and (hopefully, but you never know with those dodgy Ockers) won’t even be affected by the new rules. The new rules make sense to the Australian pollies. They’re another kick in the gonads to New Zealand.

I reckon we need to gather up the last shreds of Kiwi dignity and leave.

‘Scede from Australasia. Tell them to rack off. Australexit, if you like.

We’ll say we’re moving out for a while, having a trial separation. We could use the breathing space to have a good long think about what they really do for us, anyway.

Fair dinkum. Fair suck of the sav. Comic phrases that the Australians trade on, but there’s nothing fair about the road they’re taking.

Ali Mau is the host of RadioLIVE Drive 3pm-6pm weekdays. She is an Australian, but has this week downloaded the application forms for New Zealand citizenship.

[Read the Stuff article].

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