Amid political chaos, has Australia lost its 'Lucky Country' crown?

Australia's latest leadership battle has apparently caused "amusement" in New Zealand, with some suggesting Kiwis should claim Australia's "Lucky Country" title. 

Australia was given its "the Lucky Country" title in a 1964 book by Donald Horne, in which he portrays the country's climb to power and wealth as based on luck rather than the strength of its political system. 

The title later became associated with Australia being one of the most desirable places in the world to live, with cities like Sydney and Melbourne consistently ranking highly in The Economist's Global Liveability Index.   

But amid recent political chaos in Australia, some have suggested the country doesn't deserve its "Lucky Country" title and that perhaps New Zealand is a more worthy advocate. 

After all, in terms of political stability, Australia has had an unusually high turnover of Prime Ministers - seven in just 10 years - compared to four Prime Ministers in 10 years in New Zealand. 

Australia now has a new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who came into power on Friday through a leadership spill where former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was voted out of leadership by his own Liberal Party. 

From left to right: Scott Morrison, Julie Bishop and Peter Dutton all had their sights set on Australia's top job formerly held by Malcolm Turnbull.
From left to right: Scott Morrison, Julie Bishop and Peter Dutton all had their sights set on Australia's top job formerly held by Malcolm Turnbull. Photo credit: Getty

And it's not the first time a leadership spill has happened in Australia. 

The country's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, challenged Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd's leadership in 2010 and won. But she then lost the leadership back to Mr Rudd after he challenged her in 2013. 

Ms Gillard commented on the recent leadership spill while speaking at Melbourne's RMIT University, saying she can "understand why people would want to go and live in New Zealand, given the leadership of the current Prime Minister".  

New Zealand's political stability has been highlighted in an editorial in the Guardian, in which comedian Peter Helliar is quoted taking a dig at Australia's turmoil.

"New Zealand, hold your Prime Minister tight tonight, you don't know how lucky you are... actually I think you do," he wrote on Twitter. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's partner, Clark Gayford, replied to Mr Helliar's tweet saying: "Done".

Another tweet includes a cartoon version Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. They're shown standing calmly in a room together, opposite another room depicting Australian politicians in a chaotic scene. 

Australia's political instability has been described as "getting in the way of big decisions - like what to do about climate change," New Zealand Green Party MP Gareth Hughes wrote in a piece for The Spinoff while in Canberra. 

"I'm in Australia witnessing the political drama unfold and I'm asking myself why the so-called lucky country has been so unlucky when it comes to the political stability stakes," he wrote.  

While it may be satisfying for Kiwis to poke fun at our greatest rival, Ms Ardern has been quick to underline the two countries' important relationship, particularly in light of the new Australian Prime Minister's previous experience living and working in New Zealand.  

In a statement released on Friday, Ms Ardern congratulated Mr Morrison for winning the leadership role, but she also reflected on the "positive relationship" she had with Mr Turnbull. 

"I am confident that the close and unique relationship between New Zealand and Australia will continue under Mr Morrison's leadership," she said. 


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