AUSTRALIA and New Zealand are locked in an international crisis after the Kiwi Government accused its larger cousin of stealing pavlova and several Finn brothers.
Prime Minister Julia Gizzard's first official trip across the Tasman threatened to come unstuck when her counterpart John Keystone launched a blazing attack on Australia over its claims to have invented pavlova.
“This issue threatens to undermine the whole relationship between the two countries,” he said. “If it can't be resolved soon we will consider sanctions, including an embargo on sending our citizens to Australia to pick fruit and collect welfare and a ban on further publication of Footrot Flats.”
Ms Gizzard was in NZ to attempt to end a 70-year standoff between the two countries over icon bragging rights.
The trip began badly when the Prime Minister did not realise New Zealanders spoke English and tried to communicate in a native New Zealand language, possibly Maori.
Mr Keystone said he did not understand what Ms Gizzard said, but “it may have been gibberish or a sheep joke”.
Ms Gizzard also misread a briefing from minders suggesting she “rub noses” with the locals and began deliberately rasping her nose across the noses of unsuspecting citizens.
In the melee, several people were treated for shock and minor abrasions.
Despite the early setbacks, officials from both sides of the Tasman said progress was being made.
“There is a proposal on the table to split Phar Lap 50-50 and Australia has conceded Crowded House as long as it can take Split Enz, which was considered edgier with better makeup,” one official said.
The crucial pavlova issue was likely to be “parked” for future negotiations, but both sides were preparing a Memorandum of Understanding so convoluted and confusing it could keep the problem locked down in bureaucracy for a least five years.
Senior staff said neither leader was prepared to concede the pavlova issue without risking a major backlash at the polls.
“Generations on both sides of the Tasman have sacrificed a lot of sweat making pavlovas for Sunday dinner and special occasions,” one said. “We estimate the swinging pavlova vote could be worth up to 3%.
“For the moment both sides have agreed to end pavlova testing in the Pacific and on MasterChef.”
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