Dr Joanne Wallis, Director, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
Australia and New Zealand are often assumed to be as close as any two states in the international system; the Australian government describes them as "natural allies' and the New Zealand government says it has "no closer ally'. As a result, their conflicting approaches and diverging interests on issues - multilateralism, climate change and nuclear weapons - and the effects of these differences on cooperative working roles, are often overlooked. The two states are also more different than readily acknowledged: Australia is seen as "pragmatic': a "dependent' US ally and "middle power', whereas NZ claims to be a "principled', "independent' "small state'.
This paper considers how the Australia-New Zealand alliance operates in the Pacific Islands, the region in which it has primarily played out. In particular, it is not clear how compatible New Zealand's purportedly principles-based "Pacific reset' is with Australia's more strategically driven plan to "step-up' its engagement in the region. It is also not clear how the two states will reconcile their apparently different approaches to the United States and China, both in the region and beyond. This paper argues that divergences in Australia and New Zealand's policies and practices raise questions about the status of the alliance and how the two states will work together to address challenges in the Pacific Islands in the future.
Dr Joanne Wallis is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Studies in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University. She is the author or editor of five books, including Constitution making during State building (CUP 2014) and Pacific Power? Australia's Strategy in the Pacific Islands (MUP 2017), as well as many articles, chapters and commissioned research reports on peacebuilding, security and strategy in the Pacific Islands. She is currently the chief investigator on an ARC Discovery Project examining Australian involvement in peacebuilding in the Pacific Islands.
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