Alternative History
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1983DD ANZC MAP

Map of the CANZ with its associated states

The origins of the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand lie in decisions by the ANZUS allies - Australia, New Zealand, and the United States - after the Doomsday attacks. Most of the USA's territory had been devastated, while Australia had lost the bulk of its military strength and several of its cities. New Zealand was intact but isolated. The three allies relied on each other, prompting them to create a joint military command in 1984 and a civil intergovernmental body, the ANZUS Commonwealth, in 1989. Besides the three founding members, the Commonwealth added three Associate Members: the British forces in the Pacific, the Samoan unity government, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

In 1995 the American Provisional Administration collapsed, depriving the Commonwealth of one-third of its core membership and requiring changes in how it functioned. The modern-day ANZ Commonwealth came into being over the next two years. New institutions were created: an elected parliament, a national broadcasting company, a joint diplomatic corps, a set of unifying symbols, and a permanent capital in Jervis Bay. The CANZ was a vibrant new power that led a new political order in Oceania, now assumed to be the center of a South- and Pacific-centered world.

In the early 2000s, ANZ became one of the leading powers of the emerging world order. Its expanding geopolitical interests led to conflicts with Indonesia; with Siberia, the direct successor to the nation that had attacked Australia; and with South America, which upon its integration in 2004 became the world's biggest economic bloc. But it was also at the forefront of new efforts at cooperation. ANZ was indispensable in the process of creating the League of Nations in 2008. The next year, the Commonwealth transferred its World Census and Reclamation Bureau to LoN control.

Australia and New Zealand's own histories have been defined by demographic changes and a growing connectedness to the rest of the world. Australia needed immigrants to resettle and redevelop its northern and western regions, while the Commonwealth's network of treaties opened New Zealand to increased immigration from other Pacific island nations. Nativist and isolationist movements rose up in reaction to these changes, helping to set the Commonwealth's political fault lines in the 2010s and 20s.

Doomsday[]

Attacks on Australia[]

On September 26, 1983, people in Perth and the west coast of Australia were just starting a new work week, while South Australia and the east coast were settling in and heading toward midday. In New Zealand, it was just after noon on an otherwise normal Monday.

In the matter of an hour, everything changed drastically when news came of incoming missiles from the Soviet Union toward targets along Australia's north and west coasts.

Military planes scrambled and ships rushed to get to open water. Citizens on the fringes of cities had just enough time to seek some kind of shelter or get further away from the anticipated blasts. Some people were able to make a narrow escape, but for most people living near the targets, their fate was sealed.

Around 12:20 p.m. on the east coast and 9:20 a.m. in the west, nuclear missiles exploded over five targets. All were important military bases, and many also had significant civilian populations. They were: Pine Gap satellite surveillance base, NT (close to Alice Springs); Northwest Cape US navy base, WA (close to Exmouth); naval and air bases in Darwin, NT; the RAAF base in Cairns, QLD; and, most devastating of all, the RAAF and naval bases in Perth, WA. Everything near the blasts was incinerated, the outskirts were thrown into panic, and the nation plunged into chaos.

Australia, however, had something working in its favour that neither the United States nor the USSR had: the strikes had not destroyed the federal capital in Canberra nor the country's largest metropolises in the southeast. That would prove crucial for Australia not only surviving the crisis, but moving on to becoming a global power in the new, post-Doomsday world.

Bob Hawke Portrait 1983

PM Hawke

Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who had taken office six months prior, would lead the stunned nation through the crisis. As the southeast had not been affected by an electromagnetic pulse, Australia's power grid and telecommunications capacity were intact.

Hawke's first impulse was to find out why war had suddenly broken out and why Australia was attacked. He had urgent calls placed to both the U.S. and Soviet embassies. Personnel at both embassies were already in shock over news they had received; each claimed that the other had launched first. Both the Soviet and the American embassy personnel were told that their nations had launched a retaliatory strike. Both were also told that their home countries likely were devastated by the exchange.

Robert Nesen

Ambassador Nesen

Robert Nesen, the American ambassador to Australia, spoke with Hawke by phone and told him everything he knew; Hawke in turn offered his condolences and pledged support in what was assumed to be the impending world war. Nesen's counterpart at the Soviet embassy also spoke by phone with Hawke, and protested "American aggression" before hanging up. Hawke ordered two Army companies to the Soviet embassy - and one to surround the American embassy to protect it from troublemakers.

Nesen met Hawke at 6:07 p.m. Canberra time and told Hawke he had not been able to contact anyone from the mainland since the strikes on Australia. He also said the staff wanted to stay where they were as it was apparently the only vestige of America - and home - they had left. Hawke said he had already ordered an evacuation of the city and recommended the staff leave for safer grounds in Wagga Wagga - but they could stay if they wanted.

At the Soviet embassy, the situation was growing more tense by the hour, with all embassy personnel having been armed and told to fight "to the death for the motherland". At 9:22 p.m. Canberra time, Soviet guards took up defense positions around the embassy grounds, while Australian troops took up positions around the perimeter.

Meanwhile, after gathering basic information about the detonations from civilian and police officials on the ground, and knowing the military was already on full alert, Hawke gave the order for residents and government officials in Canberra to evacuate to "safe zones" in Wagga Wagga and Cooma. Hawke, his cabinet, and other important government officials relocating to a secured, secret location in the region.

F-111cs over Sydney

Sydney on Doomsday: fighters scramble while anyone who can tries to sail away.

Hawke also gave orders for civilians in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Hobart to evacuate - a redundant order, as civilians had already began fleeing those cities for the countryside when television and radio gave news of the missile strikes. He also declared martial law throughout the entire country for the duration of the crisis. At 9:07 p.m. Canberra time, Hawke spoke to his nation, informing the people of the hits on the five cities, the emergency orders and martial law, as well as the scant information he had been able to gather from the embassy: he stuck to the U.S. line that the Soviets had launched first. He then informed the people of the ongoing standoff at the Soviet embassy.

One of Hawke's emergency orders covered non-citizens who were in Australia either on holiday or business, authorizing government aid and assistance for the duration of the emergency. Subsequent orders would put non-citizens under the authority of the embassy of the country they were citizens of and ensure they would be included in rationing of food, medicine, clothing and other necessities over the next several months.

Throughout the evening of September 26 and into the early hours of September 27, local officials struggled to maintain order as panicked civilians fled cities they thought would be the next to get hit. Hawke contacted many of those officials and after a series of sometimes contentious conversations, they agreed to keep the civilians in the safe zones for a week; his thinking was that if this was World War III, the Soviets surely would launch any remaining missiles by the end of the week, if not that day.

While Australian submarines patrolled for any Soviet subs in the region, Hawke also ordered Australian troops, reservists, and police into the temporarily abandoned cities to keep order and prevent looting - if necessary by force.

The anticipated attack came late in the night. A sixth nuclear attack occurred in RAAF Base Woomera in South Australia. A group of submarines launched a pair of missiles, destroying the base, before they were detected. They then raced eastward, their target the complex of naval bases in Sydney. Australian forces intercepted them as they were entering Bass Strait and engaged them with depth charges and torpedoes. The subs managed to wildly launch three more missiles before they were destroyed. The first flew toward Sydney, overshooting it by a few kilometers. It detonated at sea, creating intense waves that flooded parts of the city. A second hit a patch of rural Victoria, causing deaths and contamination but sparing any population centres. The third landed much further out at sea, creating some waves that were detected in Tasmania and the Furneaux Islands and causing contamination in the water, but doing minimal immediate damage. The action by the RAN and RAAF saved Sydney and Canberra from likely destruction.

Tragedy in Canberra[]

P-3W RAAF 11 Sqn 1990

An RAAF P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft over Canberra during the standoff at the Soviet and Cuban embassies

Before dawn, Canberra policemen who had stayed in the city to help patrol it reported outbursts on the grounds of the East German, West German, Bulgarian and Cuban embassies. More troops were ordered into Canberra to surround all four embassies; the order would grow to include embassies of all Communist countries and those nations allied with the Soviet Union.

At 9:04 a.m. Canberra time on the 27th, the Soviet ambassador spoke via loudspeaker, through his translator. He declared the embassy grounds the "sovereign territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and any aggression on part of foreign aggressors will be met with force, and be seen as a further declaration of war that have already been declared upon our peoples by the United States of America and its capitalist allies." It was apparent the ambassador had gone mad, and weeping could be heard in parts of the embassy building. At 10:30 a.m., Australian intelligence monitored a phone conversation amongst the ambassadors of the Warsaw Pact nations and Cuba, with the Soviet ambassador telling his counterparts "stand your ground and prepare to fight"; the Bulgarian ambassador said "are you out of your mind, comrade? This is not the way to go", and the conversation quickly devolving into shouting and incoherent screaming. Australian intelligence then monitored a subsequent conversation amongst the Bulgarian, Romanian and Polish ambassadors, discussing some sort of conciliation with the Australian government and peaceful solution to what could turn into a disaster.

At 11:58 a.m., shots were heard from inside the East German embassy, and the Australian commander on the scene ordered his troops to rush the facility. Three troops were killed by East German guards, all of whom were themselves killed; troops found numerous mass suicides - including the East German ambassador - and several staffers, mainly women in other parts of the building, shaken and frightened. Hawke ordered more troops as backup, and consulted with military leaders: what to do about the belligerent embassies, and especially the Soviet embassy?

At 12:08 p.m., the answer from Hawke came: treat the Soviet ambassador and any belligerents as enemies of the state and subdue the threat as quickly as possible, and do the same for any other embassy - friend, foe or neutral. Once the threat was subdued, Hawke would meet with the various ambassadors.

Just 14 minutes later, despite a last-minute plea from the Polish and Bulgarian ambassadors to "turn from your madness", the Cuban and Soviet embassies declared war on Australia.

Guards at the Cuban embassy shot at TV reporters covering the siege from 100 yards out, then started shooting at the Army positions.

At the Soviet embassy, Australian troops were rocked when a hand held rocket was launched from inside the embassy at a tank, killing everyone inside and three troops surrounding it; the troops encircling the compound then came under heavy fire from all corners of the embassy; the Soviets were not going to peacefully surrender. And, apparently, neither were the Cubans.

Moments after hearing what happened to the tank, the Australian commander at the Cuban embassy gave the order to take the embassy. The troops came under heavy fire; 14 took shots, and four were killed. The troops overpowered the guards guarding all entrances to the building and rushed in, anticipating a possible room-by-room battle to take the entire building.

At the Soviet embassy, 15 troops were killed by another hand-held rocket on the south side, as troops advanced on the building itself. At that point, the troops came under heavy fire themselves, and encountered heavy resistance from guards and other staffers, all whom were well-armed themselves. On the east side, someone was spotted on an upper floor readying another hand-held missile launcher - this time, he never got the chance to launch it; spotted on the ground, an Army helicopter found him and destroyed his position with a rocket.

The invasion of the Cuban and Soviet embassies was well underway by this time, with troops going room-by-room looking for the belligerents and for anyone who dared lift even a finger in offense.

It took until 2:34 a.m. Wednesday morning to end the standoff at the Cuban embassy. By then, another four soldiers, and 56 embassy personnel and guards, were dead. One was the Cuban ambassador, shot by one of his own men. The remaining men and women were taken into custody.

Three hours later, the situation at the Soviet embassy still had not been settled, as the Soviet Ambassador (and his translator) had taken to his megaphone and made every kind of claim from possessing a nuclear weapon in the basement to threatening to contact the "Third Soviet Navy" to "destroy your aggressive nation with nuclear weapons if you do not end your siege on the sovereign territory of the Soviet Union". None of his claims were true, but the Army exercised caution, given what had occurred two days before.

A radiological sweep of the premises indicated no nuclear weapon anywhere in the vicinity, and Royal Australian Navy patrols reported no signs of Soviet activity anywhere close to Australia or New Zealand. With more troops having been sent in as backup (some of which had helped quell a minor uprising in Wagga Wagga), Hawke gave the order to bring the conflict to a close. Troops rushed the building, and found themselves in a final, brief, but desperate firefight with the remaining staffers and guards.

As dawn rose in Canberra, medics were tending to the 24 troops injured in the final siege. Troops were guarding the premises and investigating every inch of the former USSR Embassy. Others were carrying bodies to nearby, make-shift morgues to separate the 47 Australian troops from the 37 staffers killed that morning. And, ten staffers - seven women and three men - who survived in the basement underneath the corpses of others killed in the last two days were being taken elsewhere in Canberra for questioning.

New Zealand[]

Robert Muldoon 1977

PM Muldoon

When news of the attacks arrived, Prime Minister Robert Muldoon was in Trinidad for a summit of Commonwealth of Nations finance ministers. With the PM stranded outside the country for the time being, the Deputy Prime Minister, Duncan MacIntyre, led New Zealand's initial response to Doomsday. He put New Zealand's military on alert. Ships and aircraft patrolled the seas surrounding the islands, and MacIntyre assured Hawke that New Zealand would support Australia in any way possible. In his address to the nation, he also stated that as a result of the attacks on Australia and the United States, New Zealand was already at war - a statement that would be challenged, but ultimately approved, by members of the Cabinet and Parliament. Fearing a repeat of the situation in Canberra, the Deputy Prime Minister also sent soldiers to surround the various embassies in the capital city of Wellington. He hoped that the ambassadors to his country from the Warsaw Pact nations would be more willing to negotiate in peace.

There was a brief constitutional confusion over MacIntyre's summary declaration of war. The Cabinet met on 27 September and drafted a proclamation meant to parallel the wording of New Zealand's declaration of war of 3 September 1939. Parliament, after some debate, resolved to approve the measure the following day: the character and timing of the Deputy PM's statement was controversial, but the question of supporting Australia was not. New Zealand was now committed to repelling further aggression against its ANZUS allies.

Strongly influenced by events in Canberra, and by the blunt appeals of his staffers, the Soviet ambassador requested to negotiate peace terms with the New Zealand government. MacIntyre was set to meet with the Soviet and Warsaw Pact ambassadors on September 29.

Embassy of Russia in Wellington

The former Soviet embassy in Wellington, NZ (now the headquarters of the Russian diaspora who chose to live in New Zealand after DD)

That morning, gunfire was heard in the Soviet, Bulgarian, Romanian, East German, Polish and Czechoslovak embassies. Acting on intelligence that suggested the gunfire was instigated by KGB agents, MacIntyre ordered the army to occupy each Communist-allied embassy and end the violence. Wellington immediately went under martial law; Cabinet members and other top government officials were taken to a safer location outside the capital, and NZ Army troops helped escort Allied personnel to safe places in the North Island.

It took 51 hours to end the standoff, which resulted in the deaths of 26 embassy members (including assumed KGB agents) and 8 New Zealand military. By October 2, all personnel of Soviet-allied embassies had surrendered. Official protests by the Cuban and Bulgarian ambassadors were ignored. Those who were belligerent or otherwise deemed threats to the country and its people were separated by the military; the others were taken to a hastily-built camp, where they were cared for while the government figured out what to do with them.

Robert Muldoon himself came home more than a month later aboard a ship of the Chilean navy. Of all the leaders of major Latin American countries, Chile's dictator Augusto Pinochet was the only one who would commit to providing this help - the others were terrified to be seen as supporting one side in the ongoing world war. Muldoon assumed control of the New Zealand government at the end of October and oversaw the next phase of the country's war preparations.

1983 and 1984[]

War plans[]

HMAS Moresby with Kiowa helicopter

HMAS Moresby with its helicopter conducting reconnaissance off Kamchatka

For the rest of 1983, Australia and New Zealand embarked on a war with no clear idea how to wage it. When it was clear that no further attacks were coming, attention turned to shoring up Australia's military strength. Due to the distance from the Soviet Union, many ships, planes, and even ground vehicles had been able to move to safety after the missiles had been detected. But with the bases gone, they had to rely on civilian facilities to maintain them, and most of these were located in the south and east, facing away from the Soviet threat. New Zealand began to send support craft and personnel to help Australia maintain its surviving forces. HMAS Melbourne - retired from the Royal Australian Navy fleet the year before - was reactivated, repaired and returned to service in May 1984, serving as the RAN flagship for the next 11 years.

Australian and Kiwi Naval patrols engaged Soviet vessels in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. These battles were on a small scale but they were fierce: the Soviets were disoriented and confused, but they were also desperate and angry and believed they had nothing to lose. Captured sailors had no information of value: none had any idea why the war had broken out.

Melbourne Midway small

A 1981 picture of HMAS Melbourne with the US Navy's USS Midway in the background.

Reconnaissance missions ranged as far as the North Pacific. There, despite the destruction of most Russian ports, a Soviet force was attempting to occupy Alaska. Alaska's capital had survived, but the government was in disarray. The allies were unprepared to repel the invasion, but New Zealand sent a modest humanitarian shipment and a few troops to help secure Juneau. Other ships charted the Siberian coast, seeking any useful intelligence.

Recovery efforts[]

On the Australian home front, the urban evacuations ended quickly. Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart were reopened to the public on October 3, the same day that Hawke set up relief centres near the destroyed sites:

  • Bunbury, for the survivors of the Perth blast
  • Batchelor, for survivors from the Darwin region
  • Newcastle, for displaced people and officials from the blast off the coast of Sydney
  • Mareeba, for those from Cairns
  • Hermannsburg, for those from Alice Springs
  • Onslow, for the few survivors from sparsely-inhabited Exmouth
  • Port Augusta, for the even smaller number of survivors from around Woomera

Bunbury, Batchelor and Newcastle were also named provisional capitals for their respective states, a status that they would keep until 1986.

The missiles had destroyed the only significant population centres in the Northern Territory. Access to even the rather rudimentary public services to which the people were accustomed was now even more difficult, and before the end of 1983 many survivors were leaving the territory. This trend would continue for many years, leaving it depopulated. This same process could also be seen, though to a lesser extent, in the west. The two strikes to Perth had missed the city centre but covered it in fallout. People had to evacuate, leaving a hole in the heart of the state. Many survivors were heading to Melbourne and Sydney, but compared to the north, enough significant settlements remained that Western Australia had a base for rebuilding.

As Canberra had not been attacked, the Australian government was mostly able to maintain public order, preventing the chaos and anarchy that characterized many parts of the world. Hawke assumed temporary emergency powers, and Parliament passed acts to give the federal government other powers it needed to keep order and oversee the rebuilding of the nation.

On 8 November Hawke met Muldoon in Sydney to discuss the war and recovery. Hawke proposed changes that would align key branches of both governments, first and foremost the military. He also proposed measures to stimulate the economy and coordinate such matters as civil defence, agriculture and transport. The changes would have to be defined and developed jointly by both countries, but the end result would be two separate nations that, in many respects, would act as one. Hawke and Muldoon made a joint statement to the press. They asserted that the relationship between the two countries "was enormously precious at this challenging moment" and that the summit would help pave the way for the countries' joint future.

The summer saw continuing work on resettling survivors into new homes, both in the designated relief centers and in more distant cities. The federal government used its emergency powers to take charge of food distribution and public order nationwide. On the defensive front, Australian and New Zealand militaries created the first boards to oversee combined resources and plans for the next steps in the war.

Communications were restored with Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and most of the Pacific island nations by Christmas of 1983, including most New Zealand- and US- affiliated islands scattered around the ocean.

Hawke met with Indonesia's president Suharto in February 1984 to secure access to his country's petroleum. Indonesia's economic position was precarious: Australia alone could not make up for Indonesia's other lost trading partners, but that made its business more important than ever. For its part, Australia's economy also risked collapse if it could not import oil, and for now Indonesia was the only reliable source. Suharto agreed that the trade must continue. He assumed that the Australia, New Zealand and Singapore markets would eventually bounce back to near pre-Doomsday levels, and for now the needs of their economies would give Indonesia a short-term boost.

Indonesian oil gave Australia and New Zealand the ability to maintain transport links with other nations in the south Pacific. With both Britain and the United States assumed to be totally destroyed on Doomsday, the American and British protectorates and territories looked to Canberra and Wellington.

Message from America[]

In February, an unexpected radio message came from North America: the American President Ronald Reagan was alive, as was Vice President George Bush and several other staffers and cabinet members. They had finally managed to send messages to their overseas allies. The signal flickered out after a minute before Hawke could be connected. The prime minister ordered that he and Ambassador Nesen be contacted immediately for any further messages sent from the States.

The next day, another message came through from Mount Weather, and 20 minutes later, Hawke was speaking with Reagan. Nesen came in moments later. They learned that Reagan and Bush had made it to shelter but that the situation throughout the United States was grim. Just outside the U.S. government's hastily-occupied relocation sites, the Virginia state government had been destroyed, while the situation in West Virginia was critical. Many surrounding towns were falling into anarchy; supplies were dwindling, and food in the region was either inedible or had already been consumed by local survivors. There were reports of unchecked crime, gang activity, and exploitation of displaced persons.

The U.S. had also established contact with the Mexican government. Mexico was struggling to support a flood of refugees from the states along the border. Conditions and resources were strained, but the news gave Reagan, Bush, and everyone around them hope to carry on and seek a safe haven where the work of rebuilding the country could begin.

Reagan's advisors argued that it was impossible for the administration to work effectively surrounded by such dire conditions in Appalachia. It was better, they advised, to relocate to where communities were more secure - known locations included the high Rockies of Colorado and Wyoming, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Hawaii's Big Island. With Australia and New Zealand now known to have survived, Reagan told Hawke that "I have been convinced that the Pacific, not the mainland, gives our government the best chance of survival, and therefore, we are asking you for aid as we make a temporary refuge for the duration of the crisis."

Hawke immediately gave his support to Reagan, who was coming alongside an emergency administration of Cabinet members, staffers, military personnel and family members.

Reagan's plane never made it. After stopping in Mexico City, Air Force One experienced mechanical problems; the last recorded message from the pilot reported extreme duress over the Pacific Ocean. RAAF pilots in communication with Air Force One lost contact with the plane. No signs of Air Force One, nor anyone on board, have ever been found.

The American Provisional Administration[]

George HW Bush at desk

Bush as President of the United States

Bush arrived in Leadville, Colorado on Air Force Two on May 6. It took a few days for the message to come that he was now the President. Bush, shaken but determined, was sworn in as U.S. President in the Lake County Courthouse. He soon decided to carry out Reagan's original plan and relocate to the Pacific. He landed safely in Hilo on May 30 and announced the creation of the American Provisional Administration (APA). The goals of the organization were threefold: to provide cohesion for American territories and survivors around the Pacific, to respond to ongoing Soviet threats, and to gather intelligence useful for the restoration of U.S. control on the mainland.

Muldoon had already agreed to send troops and supplies to Hawaii to improve the conditions there. Hawke was unable to be so generous, but he sent staff to open an embassy in Hilo.

The three leaders were of one mind that they needed a coordinated military response, both to end remaining Soviet threats and to negotiate a lasting peace that would prevent another world war. In June, the famous Gathering Order was issued. American, British, and other NATO troops were ordered to report to Australian and New Zealand waters.

In July, Bush came to Australia with Secretary of State George Shultz to meet in person with their Australian counterparts and American naval officers. An Australian plane flew them to Brisbane, designated the location of the new ANZUS military command. Weeks later, Bush went to Auckland for another round of meetings. The President would spend much of his term of office in Australia and New Zealand, leaving subordinates to manage things in the designated capital.

U.S. equipment and ships made the combined ANZUS force the most powerful, most efficient, and best-equipped navy in the world. The USS Carl Vinson, which had managed to escape submarine attacks and survive Doomsday, was the capital ship of the fleet.

1984-1994[]

Ending the North Pacific War[]

Both Hawke and Muldoon remained committed to putting an end to World War III in the Pacific, Muldoon for ideological reasons, Hawke because Australia had been attacked. The gathered forces and the strengthened ANZUS organisation made it possible to launch a new offensive. The top priority was driving the occupying Soviet forces out of Alaska. The invasion had faltered. The invaders were hungry, cut off from support, and beset by local resistance fighters. By the start of 1984, their territorial holdings were limited to small pockets along the coast: the Aleutians, Kodiak, points along the Alaska Peninsula, the southern fringe of the Seward Peninsula (including the town of Seward), and some points around Prince William Sound. This was enough to cut off Alaska's southeast and capital from the interior, but it was only weakly held. Small-scale operations by Australia and New Zealand had weakened the invasion but failed to force it back.

In late 1984, ANZUS launched its counteroffensive. The Americans sent two tank landing ships, an amphibious transport ship, three destroyers, two frigates, two nuclear attack submarines, and several military and civilian supply and cargo ships with a few hundred Marines. British forces sent HMS Hermes with a mixed US/British air group, a destroyer, and a tanker; while the Australians sent a frigate, a minesweeper, and HMAS Jervis Bay with a marine contingent. New Zealand gave support with reconnaissance and logistics. The French Pacific managed to send a token force. The task force represented the largest conventional operation by a Western power during the late phase of World War III.

The flotilla anchored off Juneau to resupply the state government. The following spring, it launched attacks against Soviet-occupied positions along the coast. The eastward advance forces surrendered immediately upon the appearance of the large force. The Alaska Peninsula was then liberated within two weeks, Kodiak after two weeks more. Outside the Aleutians, the invasion had evaporated.

In July, ANZUS forces began a heavy bombardment of Unalaska and Umnak. These islands held out longer but were liberated in September. At this point, with Alaskan temperatures dropping far below that of a normal winter, most of the force had to return to Australia and New Zealand. The fighting in the western Aleutians returned to where it had been before the Gathering Order: a series of inconclusive small-scale operations. The skirmishing lasted two more years.

Aleutians-divided

Map showing the territorial situation at the end of the North Pacific War

Australia and New Zealand continued to contribute to the North Pacific War by supplying the Alaskans, organising and training new units of the national guard, and periodically bombarding the two remaining Soviet strongholds, the islands of Attu and Adak. But ANZUS could not spare the resources for another large offensive. George Bush still called for the liberation of the remaining territory, but by 1987 it was clear to all sides that the war had to end. The ANZUS powers met in Sitka, Alaska, with a small group of Soviet officials now attached to an emergency government in Siberia. On 15 April, the Sitka Accords brought a formal end to World War III. The Soviets were confirmed in their possession of the western Aleutians, which would be designated the Alaskan Autonomous Territory. A few islands were left as a demilitarized neutral zone. Most remaining ANZUS forces returned home.

ANZUS had created the joint military command for the North Pacific operations and World War III, but it outlasted the war. It would evolve into today's Commonwealth armed forces.

The ANZUS Commonwealth[]

ANZUS Logo (20921987801)

World War III and the recovery only reinforced the interdependence of Australia, New Zealand, and the US remnant. The United States contributed its fleet, Australia its territory and resources, New Zealand its intact economy and political system. The joint military command was a powerful force in the region; very soon there were calls for a joint civilian political entity to control it. This was the origin the ANZUS Commonwealth, the precursor to the ANZ Commonwealth of today. Bob Hawke is credited as the driving force behind it, but Bush and Muldoon certainly were enthusiastic supporters as well.

In 1988, all three put their signatures to the ANZUS Commonwealth Treaty, creating a civil and political structure to match the military alliance. Its governing body, the ANZUS Commission, first met in Wellington in early 1989. The first commission created some of the institutions that would become the bedrock of the Commonwealth - for now taking the form of cooperative agencies of the national cabinets to cover such areas as trade and energy.

British forces in the Pacific had also been involved in the military operations: mainly naval forces plus an infantry regiment of Gurkhas coming from Brunei. But they could not participate fully in the new Commonwealth. There was no civil authority to represent Britain, and their territory was negligible - consisting only of Pitcairn, less than 100 people and inaccessibly remote. So Britain was given the status of associate member: it was still part of the military alliance and had a seat on the commission, but its commissioner could not vote to overrule a decision made by two of the three main powers.

Meanwhile the US territories were taking steps to cooperate with their neighbors. Samoa was already operating as a unity government, bringing together the US- and New Zealand-influenced halves of the archipelago. The Federated States of Micronesia were also admitting new members: the Mariana Islands joined in 1988, and the Marshall Islands were also taking steps toward joining. These blocs were becoming important ways to maintain the connection with the remnant USA. They accordingly sought seats at the table together with the big three ANZUS members. Samoa obtained an associate membership, with the same status as Britain, in 1990. Micronesia followed in 1995. The two island groups were obviously smaller than the core ANZUS members, but were still part of the alliance and now could be involved in its deliberations. Since they had less power within the commission, they accordingly would not be bound by all of its acts and decisions.

Changing the Guard[]

The war and emergency greatly prolonged both Hawke and Muldoon's time in power. Australia and New Zealand had delayed their elections during the previous two world wars, and World War III called for even longer delays.

Muldoon wanted to hold New Zealand's election as early as possible, taking advantage of his popularity as a wartime leader. He was easily reelected in 1987, increasing the National Party's majority beyond the dominant position that it already enjoyed. For Labour, the loss spurred a crisis in leadership as the party struggled to create a platform that could win back votes. Mike Moore came out of the crisis as party leader in time to contest the elections of 1990. Labour tapped into Kiwis' war weariness and a deepening skepticism toward the Americans. Commentators noted that Moore ran the campaign against George Bush more than against Muldoon. Labour gave the Nats credit for ending the war but charged that the party had no clear plan for the new postwar world. Above all, Labour called on New Zealand to lead the drive for a world without nuclear technology. Labour won handily in a sharp reversal from the previous election. Muldoon became the first of the three ANZUS leaders to step down. Moore was later reelected in 1993.

All Australian Flag (1979 Australian Flag Proposal)

Australia's new flag

Australia's elections were delayed even longer as the country devoted itself to the war and recovery. Hawke also directed attention to issues of national identity. A convinced republican, he argued that the destruction of the Western world signalled that it was time for Australia to stand on its own feet and shed its vestigial British attachments. He championed legislation naming a new national anthem, "Advance Australia Fair," and a new flag, the "All Australian" design by Athol Kelly. More consequential was a 1987 law to separate Australia's government from Britain - on a provisional basis. Hawke wanted to avoid putting the question to a referendum: the mad changes that had racked the country meant that there was no telling where the public would come down on the issue. Instead the Provisional Head of State Act created a republican form of government only until a credible monarch could effectively exercise government. The law was controversial and would face challenges, but it would remain in force until confirmed by a later referendum.

Hawke finally held elections in 1989. It was Australia's longest period without an election, and for this reason alone the momentum belonged to the Liberal Party under John Howard. Hawke remained a beloved leader but voters were ready to move on.

The APA's George Bush made it a top priority to hold a presidential election on schedule in 1988 despite the scattered and chaotic state of U.S. territory. He defeated only token opposition in votes held in Alaska, Hawaii, and among expats in Australia and New Zealand. Four years later, Bush stood for reelection again. It was his first against any real opposition. But he won again quite easily. Bush was the indispensable man in the emergency administration, and it was hard for voters to imagine anyone else at the helm of the surviving American territories. The elections were constitutionally questionable - the United States still had no Congress, and plans to elect one had to be pushed back time and again - but they confirmed the commitment to democracy in the surviving parts of the United States.

In 1994, the ANZUS Commission approved a plan for an elected representative assembly. This would be a tall order for the Americans, who had yet to elect a Congress. Soon the American territory would be swept by a series of crises that would stop it from carrying out these plans.

1995: From ANZUS to ANZ[]

End of the American Provisional Administration[]

The APA faced a series of setbacks in the 1990s. For years it had tried to maintain links with surviving communities on the West Coast. But from Hawaii, the administration could do little more than send messages and receive small groups of refugees. The surviving state government of Washington had stronger links with Victoria, British Columbia than with the feds in Hawaii. That of Oregon was embroiled in a destructive conflict with its own people. In 1992, the administration began a more active attempt to reclaim the mainland. With Australian and New Zealand support, it established a sizable base in the harbor of Crescent City, California. For a little over a year, the base was successful. But all progress was lost in the 1993 Crescent City Crisis. The APA termed it criminal gang activity, while local supporters described it as an anti-federal insurrection. Outlying bases were attacked, and a number of personnel were killed. Australia and New Zealand pulled their support from the project, the governors of Alaska and Hawaii were slow to commit their states' resources, and in the end the APA had no choice but to abandon the city.

Meanwhile, many Hawaiians had become dissatisfied with the administration. A popular movement calling for the demilitarization of Hawaii had been growing for some years. George Bush's dismissive response helped turn this into a call for outright independence, and the Crescent City Crisis was a tipping point. The APA looked weak, disorganized, divided, and lacking the support of its own people. Hawaii's legislature authorized a referendum on independence, and in November 1994, it passed.

Bush and the rest of the administration insisted that the vote was illegal, but it was enough for the governments of Australia and New Zealand. Both were already impatient with the American government. After a decade, they were still propping it up; it had not achieved anything approaching self-sufficiency. Bush now asked for military support to rein in Hawaii; they said no. Instead they called for talks to reconsider the relationships among the ANZUS allies and with the smaller islands. New Zealand's PM Mike Moore mediated the Wellington Summits, which lasted six months in 1994-1995.

Bush, finally defeated, agreed to dissolve the APA, which he announced on 1 May. The ANZUS Commonwealth would continue, but with only two core members, Australia and New Zealand. The USA no longer had the capacity to participate as a coequal member. Its military forces were already integrated into the joint command and already depended on Australian and New Zealand resources. The American units would maintain a US identity within the Commonwealth command. They would gradually fill up with Australian and NZ personnel, but that was going to happen anyway.

For Hawaii, its new provisional leaders agreed to a status of free association with the Commonwealth, pending approval by the legislature. The arrangement would be based on what had previously existed between Palau and the United States, and between Niue and New Zealand. Palau itself would also transfer its Free Association status from the APA to the Commonwealth. Samoa and Micronesia had already been part of the Commonwealth as associate members. They remained members in this capacity; the American government now relinquished its administrative role over them.

The APA continued to limp along for a little while under Robert Nesen, who had served as Bush's vice president. The Alaskans considered reconstituting a federal government but eventually decided to follow Hawaii into free association. Anti-US sentiment was not nearly as strong in Alaska, but it did not seem feasible for the state to take on this burden. It took another year to transfer all the islands and other federal assets, after which the Administration closed its doors.

The Administration knew that they left behind survivors in the Rocky Mountains, which in 1992 had formed the Provisional USA. The end of the APA and its absorption into the Commonwealth may have been the end of the US presence in the Pacific, but nobody believed that it was the end of the nation entirely. There was still hope for America - just not a place in the Commonwealth. Both the Continuity Act and the Committee to Restore the USA represented efforts to keep this hope alive.

Sir Ninian Stephen

Sir Ninian Stephen

By now, the British contribution to the alliance had also become unsustainable, its forces reduced even further by a 1993 agreement to transfer some ships to the Celtic Alliance. When the Americans ceased to function as an independent national entity, so did the British. Their military units got the same settlement as the American ones: they would always have a British (or in the case of one regiment, a Gurkha) identity, but they would be fully under Commonwealth control. Besides these units, the British Survivors' Administration, an NGO for veterans and refugees founded by the Australian Governor-General Ninian Stephen, became the main expression of British identity in the new Commonwealth. Britain's only territory, Pitcairn, accepted its own Treaty of Free Association with ANZ in 1999.

The new commonwealth[]

The departure of the -us part of ANZUS was an opportunity create something new. On 15 August 1995, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand was formally proclaimed. A set of new treaties and protocols helped to create a new, aspirational identity. The General Secretariat was strengthened, and plans for a directly elected Parliament moved forward. A monetary commission began preparations for a combined currency. The Commonwealth had power over issues of defence, regional security, and international commerce, while local and national issues remained with the respective member and associate member nations.

The creation of the new ANZ Commonwealth represented a major change in the national outlook and aspirations of Australia and New Zealand. ANZUS had been backward-looking to the Cold War and World War 3; the new ANZ was forward-looking. It represented the future; the rising South; the Pacific-centered world. It came to inspire and build a new source of identity.

Of course, there was also criticism of the new Commonwealth. Some on the political right were concerned that national identities would be swallowed up by a more homogeneous entity. A few continued to lament the vanishing role of the monarchy in both countries and urged a more prominent role for the Crown, even though it was not clear who its legitimate holder was. Some warned that the Commonwealth was nothing more than an extra layer of bureaucracy that neither country could afford. Conspiracy theorists suggested the ANZC was the precursor to a world government, a theory that died out around the turn of the century but regained steam when the League of Nations was announced.

The Commonwealth sought to give the region a united voice and front to the rest of the world, which served the ANZC well in relations with southeastern Asian countries and, later, with South America.

The Carl Vinson controversy[]

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

The Vinson

The USS Carl Vinson received a new designation, the ANZS Carl Vinson (ANZ-01) and became the new flagship of the combined ANZC Navy. It joined American submarines and other ships already operating under ANZ command.

This step caused intense debates among Australians and New Zealanders concerning the use of nuclear fission, especially for military purposes. Although a majority agreed to the plans in a popular vote in both countries, the anti-nuclear movement spearheaded by the Green Party grew more and more influential in the CANZ parliament, inspiring similar movements in other nations.

The addition of the American ships allowed the CANZ Navy to operate on a global scale and provide humanitarian support in other nations.

1996-2008: The New World[]

The ANZ Institutions[]

The mature form of the Commonwealth institutions took several years to evolve. After both members (and both associate members) ratified a new treaty, the ANZ Parliament sat for the first time in 1997. Its lower house was a new, directly elected House of Representatives. its upper house was the intergovernmental commission carried over from the ANZUS Commonwealth, now somewhat enlarged with multiple commissioners from each full member. In this way both the national governments and the people would have a voice in Commonwealth affairs.

The executive power of the Commonwealth remained with the secretariat, but with the start of parliamentary rule the position became much more like that of a prime minister. The Secretary General was made responsible to both houses of Parliament, the representatives and commissioners. The portfolios attached to the secretariat continued to grow, requiring the creation of a Cabinet.

DD1983 ANZC CoA

The new shield of the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth acquired a distinct visual identity in 1996 with a new flag and associated coat of arms. The flag depicted the Southern Cross in green and gold, traditional colours of Australia, and black and white, the colours of New Zealand.

The ANZUS Commission had alternated its meetings between Wellington and Canberra, but the growing institutions required a permanent site. Australia's Jervis Bay was recognized as an ideal location. It had been carved out of New South Wales a century earlier with the intention of making it serve as Canberra's port. Developing it had never been expedient, leaving it as a mostly vacant harbour under direct federal control. It was located in Australia but on the coast facing New Zealand. Australia ceded the territory to the Commonwealth itself, creating a capital territory with a special status. Construction began on new buildings for the parliament, secretariat, and other agencies.

By 1999, the ANZ Commonwealth was in the process of creating a fully integrated foreign service. The task of accrediting ambassadors had fallen to the governor general of each nation, and from this came the idea of a combined governor-generalship for the Commonwealth. As part of Hawke's "provisional republican" reforms, Australia had settled on a new method for selecting its GG, but New Zealand had taken no such measures. David Beattie, named by the Queen in 1980, had stayed on far beyond the usual term of office. Australian representatives proposed a rather convoluted method by which the ANZ Parliament and the two national governments could name a respected statesmen to serve as a joint governor general.

In New Zealand, the idea was controversial and remains so today, because it amounted to grafting New Zealand onto Australia's republican system. It had been known for years that Queen Elizabeth's son Andrew had been alive and well in South Africa and that he claimed to be the legitimate monarch; and by now it was also evident that he had done so with the full backing of the British government. Conservatives and royalists accused the Australians of sneaking an illegal constitutional change into the Commonwealth's institutions, even if it was on a "provisional" basis. But in the end they lost the argument. Britain was gone, it had done little to help New Zealand since Doomsday, and the Crown had too few ardent supporters. The Labour government endorsed the plan, and it passed. An exhausted Beattie began a well-earned retirement, and Australia's GG Bill Hayden became the first Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand. A few months later, fulfilling a tacit agreement, Hayden stepped down in favour of a New Zealander, jurist Thomas Eichelbaum, chosen via the new system.

Expanding Pacific Sphere[]

The next few years saw a geopolitical realignment of the entire Pacific Ocean. The ANZC had inherited a useful tool from the U.S. and New Zealand governments: the treaty of free association. The former American territories of Alaska, Hawaii and Belau (formerly Palau) had accepted this status as the APA disbanded. Almost immediately the Commonwealth started to offer this status to independent countries - Tuvalu in 1995, Nauru in 1998, Kiribati in 1999. New Zealand's associated states of Niue and the Cook Islands also transferred their association from NZ to ANZ in the late 90s, and in 1999 the British Pitcairn Islands joined the growing constellation. The ANZC was taking on the role of protector for the region. Many in the Commonwealth felt a sense of responsibility for Oceania and saw themselves as its natural leaders.

The growth of this system was alarming to a few smaller powers in the Pacific. The French remnant in the Pacific, historically a NATO partner, now began to distance itself from ANZ after many years of close cooperation. Fiji and Tonga likewise looked on with mistrust at this emerging ANZ hegemony.

Papua petroleum

Drilling for oil in New Guinea

Certain interests in the Commonwealth were also eager to take advantage of strife in Indonesia. The country was ANZ's main supplier of petroleum, and it faced endless problems from separatists starting in the mid-80s. By the 90s, the country was still in pieces with seemingly no way to reunite it fully. This threatened the oil supply. Business interests persuaded the ANZ secretariat to change course from supporting Indonesia to acknowledging and supporting the separatists. In particular, the far west end of West Papua, the former Irian Jaya, had some very good oil and gas fields. It was in the Commonwealth's interest to make West Papua stable and friendly. In the early 2000s it recognized the separatist government there, and before long helped put it on the path toward unification with Papua New Guinea, already an associated state. Oil extraction would be done by Australian and Kiwi companies, with plenty of guidance from the Commonwealth itself.

These opportunistic actions ruined ANZ's relationship with Indonesia, as did its recognition of other separatists in East Timor and Aceh. They also hurt its international image and deepened worldwide fears that it was an emerging imperial power.

South America[]

In the 2000s, the growth of global trade brought Australia and New Zealand into a closer relationship with the strongest geopolitical bloc of the new world: South America. Inter-regional relations combined cooperation and competition. Several crises in the early 2000s caused their rivalry to deepen and escalate. At the same time, they began to cooperate to create a new framework for resolving conflicts, the League of Nations.

Initially, the people of Oceania and South America saw each other as fellow survivors. New Zealand and parts of South America were the most intact remaining parts of the developed world. Starting in the late 80s, the governments of Australia, New Zealand, and most South American countries had resumed normal diplomatic relations. They pledged to work together on numerous fronts, including science, medicine, and the general goal of pursuing a more just and peaceful Southern Hemisphere.

However, as both sides expanded their influence, military leaders and politicians began to view one another with mistrust, even as a potential threat.. To the South Americans, Australia-New Zealand seemed to be positioning itself to be the world's new superpower. Many Australians and Kiwis saw the South Americans in a similar way. Several countries had taken the opportunity to expand their borders: Argentina in the Falkland Islands, Venezuela in Guyana, Brazil in French Guiana, and now several nations were in the process of refurbishing the Panama Canal. With trans-Pacific trade on the increase, some were asking whether any Pacific islands would become "the next Falklands".

While the Commonwealth and South American militaries lobbied for bigger budgets to strengthen their forces, politicians turned to bellicose rhetoric to bolster their own status, at the expense of the "enemy" (and often the truth). Right-wing politicians claimed communist influence in Brazil and Argentina, while politicians in many South American countries claimed that the Australians were nothing more than lackeys of the disgraced Americans, intent on provoking another war that could destroy the world.

Meanwhile a counter-movement urged peace, moderation and nonintervention. The movement spanned multiple parties in multiple countries, though in Australia and NZ the rising Greens were its most vocal proponents. The rhetoric of rivalry provoked distaste among members of the public on both sides of the Pacific. The growing rivalry seemed to be taking the world down the path toward another Cold War - and everyone knew how the last one had ended. Even as political tensions rose, and the two blocs argued over nearly everything, many were calling for peace.

In August 1994 Australian and Argentine ships faced down one another in a tense standoff. An ANZ patrol chased off an Argentine fishing expedition between Pitcairn and the Gambier Islands (part of French Polynesia). This sparked protests from the French Pacific and Argentina, as well as from Chile and Brazil on Argentina's behalf. Increased patrols in subsequent weeks provoked confrontations with other fishermen, a semi-legal pearl harvesting operation, and, finally, an Argentine naval patrol. No shots were fired, but relations reached a new low. While diplomats in Canberra and Buenos Aires sought to resolve the dispute, demonstrators in the capitals called for all parties to prevent a war. Mistrust remained, but the standoff spurred both sides to give more attention to trans-Pacific relations.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, a new dispute centered on the Panama Canal. Tension over Panama threatened to undo whatever progress had been made. Colombia had begun the long process of repairing the canal in 1991, with support from Ecuador and Venezuela. At first, this work did not draw much interest from top officials or the public of ANZUS: Panama was very distant, the project seemed unlikely to succeed, and the Commonwealth had far more pressing concerns in Oceania and the American west coast. But as work progressed, many began to see Panama as vital to their geopolitical interests. A restored canal could the door to commerce and influence in the Caribbean and Atlantic worlds.

In 1996, the Commission of what was now the ANZC claimed that it had a stake in the restoration and governance of the Canal Zone. The legal basis for this claim was that when the American Provisional Administration dissolved, the ANZ Commonwealth took on its diplomatic commitments in the Pacific Ocean, which it now defined to include the CZ. The precise nature of the USA's commitment was not entirely clear: the Canal had been considered a joint Panamanian-U.S. territory in 1983 and was scheduled to be ceded fully to the Republic of Panama in 1999. Since both Panama and the USA had collapsed and failed to re-emerge as coherent nations, it was not obvious who had the right over the CZ. Now ANZ was insisting on its right to, at minimum, be consulted on Panama's future status.

Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador mostly ignored Australia and New Zealand's claims. They had got to Panama first and were investing a great deal into it. Beginning in 2000, ANZ began to assert itself more forcefully through an escalating series of intimidation tactics.

In 2000, the ANZC naval flagship (the supercarrier ANZS Carl Vinson) - visited the Gulf of Panama, retracing the route the USS Benjamin Franklin had peacefully taken a few years before. But under the circumstances, the visit was seen as a threat. ANZ officers were refused permission either to land or enter the canal. Another standoff ensued, and this time a shot was fired. The boat went back to the ship without returning fire. The Vinson bypassed Colombia and Ecuador but was allowed to continue its visit, entering Peruvian waters and docking in Lima.

Relations between the ANZC and the canal powers just got worse from there. In 2001 the canal was opened to commercial traffic. Because of the dispute, ships registered in Australia and New Zealand were specifically excluded. This was a clear violation of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977, and the idea that their ships would be essentially cut off from the Atlantic was unacceptable to commercial concerns in Australia and New Zealand. Most of the people agreed with them. On the other hand, many voices on both sides of the Atlantic continued to urge de-escalation. The presidents of Chile and Peru criticized Colombia's confrontational stance and sought ways to cooperate rather than compete with the ANZC.

In 2003 the ANZC dispatched a naval squadron to Panama. This expedition was even more provocative than the last: it not only anchored in the Gulf, but marines effected a landing on the Pearl Islands, which were not under any government's effective control and thus were undefended. Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela put their own forces on alert. Australia-New Zealand withdrew after a few days. The latest show of strength did nothing to change the stance of the three canal powers. Its major effect was to turn public opinion sharply against the Commonwealth all over South America. The action accelerated the formation of the South American Confederation, which soon took on a supervisory role over the Canal Zone.

The following year, the ANZC tried again. This time it reached out to the other major power that stood to benefit from open access to the canal: Socialist Siberia . The Siberians also were alarmed at the consolidation of the South American bloc and its potential to dominate the world economy. They therefore agreed to conduct joint naval exercises in the central Pacific not far from Central America. It was a most peculiar fleet that gathered: Southern Crosses alongside Hammers and Sickles - both sides of World War III, coming together to show their strength.

With the Panama Canal now subject to the control of all of South America, not just Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, cooler heads prevailed to avoid further escalation. All three sides met at Lima in late 2005 to finally re-negotiate the 1977 treaty that was causing so much trouble. In the new treaty, the ANZC recognized South America as the legitimate successor to the Panamanian government insofar as the Canal Zone was concerned. In return, South America dropped the ban against ANZ ships and agreed in principle never to exclude the Commonwealth or Siberia from using the canal for commercial purposes.

Relations between the blocs improved after that. ANZC voters, tired of imperialistic grandstanding, sent enough Greens to the ANZ parliament in 2006 that they became part of the governing coalition for the first time. The same year saw the election of Juan Manuel Santos to the Colombian Presidency. Santos had been educated in US and Britain, which helped him be more receptive to Australia-New Zealand's friendly overtures. ANZ military policy shifted from competition with South America to cooperation. Australia-New Zealand forces joined with the newly united South American armed forces to establish new regimes in North America (the Municipal States of the Pacific) and South Africa (the RZA). And talk was beginning on a new forum for international diplomacy: the League of Nations.

The League of Nations[]

The CANZ was a founding member of the League of Nations and hosted the foundation ceremony on September 26, 2008 in Canberra. Australia and New Zealand were never intended to host the League permanently, however, and the headquarters was soon established in Tonga. The small island quickly proved inadequate, as well. The HQ was moved in 2010 to Nouméa in New Caledonia and in 2015 to Cape Town.

The four members of the Commonwealth initially sought to seat separate delegations in the new League. But by then, the ANZC had a fully-integrated foreign service, undermining the idea that its members could be seated separately. ANZ therefore agreed to send a single delegate, but as a compromise, each of its Freely Associated States would be free to pursue membership on its own, giving more votes to the Oceanic bloc.

2009 to the Present[]

The 2010 Earthquake[]

On September 4, 2010, a major 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch at 4:35 am local time, causing an estimated total cost of ANZ$4 billion in damage. The epicentre was located approximately 40 km west of the central city, ten km southeast of Darfield. The earthquake occurred at a depth of ten km (6.0 mi).

Sewers were damaged, gas and water lines were broken, and power to up to 75% of the city was disrupted. Among the facilities impacted by lack of power was the Christchurch Hospital, which was forced to use emergency generators in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

A state of emergency was declared at 10:16 am on 4 September for the city, and evacuations of parts were planned to begin later in the day. People inside the Christchurch city centre were evacuated, and the city's central business district remained closed until September 5. A curfew from 7 pm on September 4 to 7 am on September 5 was put in place. The ANZC Army was also deployed to assist police and enforce the curfew. All schools were closed until September 8 so they could be checked.

Christchurch International Airport was closed following the earthquake and flights in and out of it cancelled. It reopened at 1:30 pm following inspection of the main runway.

The earthquake was reported to have caused widespread damage and power outages. 63 aftershocks were also reported in the first 48 hours with three registering 5.2 magnitude. Christchurch residents reported chimneys falling in through rooves, cracked ceilings and collapsed brick walls. Total Earthquake Commission, insurance and individual costs may reach as high as ANZ$4 billion.

The 2010 Queensland floods[]

A series of floods hit Australia, beginning in December 2010, primarily in the state of Queensland including its capital city, Brisbane. The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities. At least 70 towns and over 200,000 people were affected. Damage initially was estimated at around ANZ$1 billion. The estimated reduction in the ANZC's GDP is about ANZ$25 billion.

Three-quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster zone. The 2010–2011 floods killed 35 people in Queensland. As of January 26, an additional nine persons are missing. The Queensland floods were followed by the 2011 Victorian floods which saw more than 50 communities in western and central Victoria also grapple with significant flooding.

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