Australia’s governor-general and his military bling – and Fiji spreads its aviation wings.
Rarely does the arrival of a container ship make headlines in New Zealand. But when the biggest container ship the country has ever seen pulls into Port of Tauranga on the north island this September the media will likely be out in force.
Danish shipping giant Maersk’s “mega” freight ships, which travel to north Asia from South America, will now make a pit-stop here along a new route that bypasses the typical journey through the Torres Strait. This will give Kiwi producers better access to Asian ports. It is also a huge win for the port city of Tauranga, which gambled nz$350m (€225m) on an opportunity to berth bigger boats by expanding its port.
Fiji was something of an aviation centre in the 1960s, linking Air New Zealand journeys onward bound to Los Angeles via Hawaii. But as jets got bigger and stopovers less relevant, the tropical island’s aviation clout diminished.
However, Fiji’s aviation glory days may be about to return. Its flag carrier, Fiji Airways, has added seasonal flights from Nadi International Airport to San Francisco and Singapore. With growing wealth in Asia, Fiji Airways has been promoting the allure of its home base not just through direct connections but also through airline partnerships that enable it to scoop up passengers from regional transit airports such as Changi. The freshly rebranded airline, which posted record profits for 2016, is quickly becoming one of the South Pacific’s finest soft-power assets.
Already reeling from an avocado shortage earlier this year, Aussies are scrambling over the scarcity of another breakfast staple: eggs. Tightened government regulations on free-range eggs announced in March are taking longer than expected to implement. The delay means that farmers are holding off on expanding facilities to house more hens. An extra-chilly winter added to the problem, with outdoor-living chooks failing to deliver.
Australia reveres its military like few other countries: Anzac Day, the anniversary of the invasion of Gallipoli in 1915, is arguably a bigger deal than Australia Day. However, this is a fairly recent development. The adoption of khaki as the nation’s favourite colour is a legacy of the ostentatiously patriotic John Howard government of 1996 to 2007. One beneficiary is Peter Cosgrove, now Australia’s governor-general, the local representative of the British Crown – and effectively the head of state.
The first time Cosgrove, now 69, returned from active service he was a hero, having won the Military Cross in Vietnam. But Australia, embarrassed by its involvement in the war, paid little heed to its veterans. The last time he came home in uniform he did so as the triumphant commander of Interfet, the Australian-led intervention in Timor-Leste in 1999. He was named Australian of the Year in 2001 and became chief of the defence force in 2002.
“Cosgrove has the characteristics we’ve admired in our diggers [soldiers] down the years,” says Patrick Lindsay, author of Cosgrove: Portrait of a Leader. Those qualities include “courage, coolness, devotion, compassion, loyalty – with a good dose of humour”.
Cosgrove was appointed Australia’s 26th governor-general in 2014 and he has discharged this largely ceremonial role with the same approachability that helped him win it. When asked how he, the governor-general of the Commonwealth of Australia, his excellency general the honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC, would prefer people to address him, he said: “Very happy if they call me Peter.”
- Knighthood of the Order of Australia
The brief and swiftly abandoned reintroduction of knighthoods was a big Tony Abbott blunder but most Australians would probably have agreed that Cosgrove was a more deserving candidate than most.
- Grand Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste
Cosgrove received Timor-Leste’s highest honour from president Taur Matan Ruak in 2016, in recognition of his leadership of the Interfet mission in 1999.
- Military Cross
Cosgrove won the MC in 1969 – then the Australian military’s third-highest award for gallantry – for his actions as a 22-year-old platoon commander leading assaults on Vietcong bunker systems.
It has been many decades since an Australian governor-general togged up in ceremonial uniform. Cosgrove generally wears unflashy suits.
Bakers in Tonga are petitioning the King after the government decided to ban the sale of bread on Sundays. The ban was pushed for by church leaders and forbids commercial undertakings on the Sabbath.