There are two main problems with this:

  • unless New Zealand puts a lot more in—both defence spending and worthwhile capability—Australia will end up spending a good deal propping up the lesser partner; and
  • lest we forget, there was a good reason why New Zealand was booted out of the ANZUS Alliance.  It will be interesting seeing how Australia manages to put walls around the proposed combined Anzac force, given the degree to which the rest of the ADF is integrated with US systems.

I can see the attraction in terms of a combined force that ‘looks after’ the South Pacific.  But even there, having two separate forces has its advantages—namely that Australia makes New Zealand look a good deal more acceptable to South Pacific nations.   And Australia has a naturally more outward perspective than New Zealand.  Australia has to avoid New Zealand dragging Australia’s strategic focus down to the South Pacific.  Instead, it needs to assist New Zealand do more of the heavy lifting both in the South Pacific and beyond.