Privatisation postponed: convergence and divergence in Australian and New Zealand port reform
Australia and New Zealand are both island nations, sharing political, economic and cultural traditions, although there are major differences in land area and in the scale of their economies. In 2007 Australia's population reached 21 million, about five times larger than New Zealand's. Abundant primary resources and modern transport connections have helped both countries become 'the world's champions in challenging the tyranny of distance' (Withers, 2007, p. 21). Their port systems have longstanding maritime trade connections that were strengthened by the Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement of 1983 (Tull, 2006). In the late 1980s New Zealand broke with the long tradition of state regulation of ports and centralised control of waterfront labour by embarking on a major programme of port reform and privatisation (Reveley, 2003). As was the case in the 1890s, when New Zealand pioneered social reform and other state initiatives later adopted in Australia (Wilkes, 1993), Australia quickly followed suit with a raft of measures intended to increase the efficiency of its ports (Tull and Reveley, 2001).