On September 26, 1983, people in Perth and the west coast of Australia were just starting their workdays, while those in south Australia and on the east coast - including the cities of Sydney and Melbourne - were settling in and heading toward midday.
A presumably normal day in Australia, in the matter of an hour, changed drastically when news came of incoming missiles from the Soviet Union toward three cities: Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
Citizens on the fringes of those three cities had just enough time to seek some kind of shelter and get further away from the anticipated blasts. Some people in the cities were able to escape, incredibly, but for most people in the cities their fate was sealed.
Around 12:20 p.m. on the Australian east coast and 9:20 on the Australian west coast, nuclear missiles exploded over the heart of all three cities, throwing the outskirts into complete panic and the nation into chaos.
Australia, however, had something working in its favor that neither the United States nor the USSR had: the strikes had not destroyed the federal government in Canberra nor many of the military installations and bases around the nation. 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.
Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who had taken office six months previous, would lead the stunned nation through the crisis. As the nation had not been hit with an electromagnetic pulse attack, Australia's power grid and telecommunications capacity was intact.
His first impulse was to find out why three of his nation's cities had been targeted; he ordered troops to the U.S. and Soviet embassies. Personnel at both embassies were already in shock over news they had been told by their respective ambassadors; Moscow had launched first, Washington launched in defense. The Soviet embassy personnel were told it was an accident; American personnel told that the Soviets had launched first. Both were told their home countries likely were devastated by the subsequent exchange.
Robert Nesen, the American ambassador to Australia, spoke with Hawke by phone and told Hawke everything he knew; Hawke in turn offered his condolences, and pledged support in any manner. Nesen's counterpart at the Soviet embassy also spoke by phone with Hawke, and protested "American aggression" before hanging up the phone. 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 was ordering 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 and 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.
Hawke also gave orders for civilians in Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin, 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 Sydney/Perth/Melbourne 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 three cities, the emergency orders and martial law, as well as scant information he had been able to gather from the U.S. embassy: 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" to cover basic expenses. 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, decided 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 into the temporarily abandoned cities to keep order and prevent looting - if necessary by force.
Tragedy in CanberraBefore 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, Yugoslavian, 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 ZealandAware of the situation in Canberra, New Zealand had sent in its military to surround the various embassies in the capital city of Wellington. Prime Minister Robert Muldoon hoped that the ambassadors to his country from the USSR/Warsaw Pact bloc would be more willing to negotiate in peace.
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. Muldoon was set to meet with the Soviet and Warsaw Pact ambassadors on September 29.
That morning, gunfire was heard in the Soviet, Bulgarian, Romanian, East German, Polish and Czechoslovakian embassies, by military station around the embassies. Acting on intelligence that suggested the gunfire was instigated by KGB agents, Muldoon ordered his Army to occupy each Communist-allied embassy and end the violence. Wellington immediately went under martial law; Muldoon 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 257 embassy members (including assumed KGB agents) and 28 New Zealand military. By October 2, the embassies of the Soviet Union and all of its allies were under complete New Zealand control. Official protests by the Cuban and Bulgarian ambassadors were ignored. Survivors who were belligerent or otherwise deemed threats to the country and its people were separated by the military; the other survivors were taken to a hastily-built camp, where they were cared for while the government figured out what to do with them.
In Australia, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra and Darwin were reopened to the public on October 3, the same day that Hawke set up relief centres in three cities near the destroyed centres of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth:
- Bunbury, for the survivors of the Perth blast
- Newcastle, for those from Sydney
- Geelong, for survivors from the Melbourne region
All three cities were also named provisional capitals for their respective states (and formalized as such in 1986).
It was notable that all three strikes hit directly over the downtowns of their respective targets, and not nearby military bases. This proved to be especially valuable to the survivors of the Perth blast and to western Australia in general, as the Pearce RAAF base in nearby Bullsbrook was not hit. Not only was the base relatively undamaged, the military also was able to use it as a staging area for the defence, and eventually rebuilding of, western Australia.
As Canberra remained untouched from nuclear attacks, the Australian government survived and was able to maintain a basic degree of order over the entire nation, preventing the chaos and anarchy that happened in numerous other nations. Hawke oversaw temporary, but necessary, emergency powers and acts designed to give the federal government the power it needed to keep order and help oversee the rebuilding of his nation.
Muldoon offered aid to Australia, and requested a meeting to discuss what both countries should do going forward.
On October 8, Hawke met Muldoon to discuss the events of Doomsday and subsequent days. Hawke proposed changes that would align and combine key branches of both governments, first and foremost the military. Hawke also proposed measures aimed at preventing a collapse of the economy, and other changes that would have wide-ranging ramifications for both nations, from civil defence to agriculture to transportation. 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 (most notably economically and militarily) acted as one.
Hawke told Australia and New Zealand media that the relationship between the two countries "was enormously precious at this difficult and challenging time" and that it would help pave the way for their "joint future".
The summer saw continuing work on resettling refugees near the destroyed cities into new homes in or near the three designated relief centers. The federal government also took on increased, but temporary, powers that helped it with food distribution and maintaining order nationwide. And, quietly, Australian and New Zealand militaries began combining resources and taking steps to work as a unified force by April 1984.
Communications were restored with Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and most of the Pacific island nations by Christmas of 1983 (including British-affiliated Western Samoa and U.S. territory American Samoa)
Hawke met with Indonesian President Suharto in February 1984, asking for access to Indonesian oil while pledging Australian aid for the beleaguered nation regardless of Suharto's response. Suharto accepted the aid and agreed to open up his country's oil to all markets. He believed that Indonesia needed to move forward on the assumption that the Australia, New Zealand and Singapore markets would eventually bounce back to near pre-Doomsday levels; that would help secure Indonesia's long-term economic future, and the needs of the Australian and Singaporean militaries would give Indonesia's economy a short-term boost.The 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.
Indonesian oil allowed Australia the luxury of visiting various nations in the south Pacific. With both Great Britain and the United States assumed totally destroyed on Doomsday, the American and British protectorates and territories looked to Canberra.
Message from America
In February, an unexpected radio message from North America came: the American President, Ronald Reagan, was alive, as was Vice President George Bush and several other staffers and cabinet members, and they were trying to find out who else was alive in this post-Doomsday world.
After learning of the message from America, Hawke ordered that he be in on any further messages sent from the states, and that Ambassador Nesen be allowed in.
The next day, another message came through from Mount Weather, and 20 minutes later, Hawke was speaking with President Ronald Reagan. Nesen came in moments later, and he and Hawke were told that Reagan and Bush had gotten to shelter, but that the known situation throughout the United States was grim. The Virginia and West Virginia state governments had collapsed, with even the surrounding towns falling into anarchy, and locals beginning to resort to cannibalism; supplies were dwindling, and food in the region was either inedible or had already been accounted for by local survivors. No one had been able to establish contact with anyone outside the Mount Weather or Greenbrier regions, and certainly not from Canada, Japan nor Western Europe.
The one contact other than Australia the U.S. had been able to establish was with Mexican military south of Mexico City; they learned that Mexico had survived Doomsday and was not only functioning but was apparently taking American survivors from the southwest border states. It gave Reagan, and Bush, and everyone around them hope, to carry on and seek safe haven.
Reagan's advisors informed him the situation around Mount Weather and Bush's headquarters at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia was likely the same throughout the country and were advising him to abandon the mainland for the closest known surviving U.S. ally. With Australia now known to have survived, Reagan told Hawke that "I have been convinced by my advisors that Australia, not Mexico, gives our government the best chance at survival, and therefore, we are asking you for temporary refuge for the duration of the crisis."
Hawke immediately agreed to accept Reagan and Bush, along with other remaining cabinet members, staffers, military personnel and family members. Hawke advised that Reagan make arrangements with Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid, if possible, to accept any and all American refugees who had fled into that country (which Reagan had already planned for).
Reagan's plane never made it. Soon after leaving Hawaii, Air Force One began having mechanical problems; the last recorded message from the pilot reported extreme mechanical duress over the Pacific Ocean. The RAAF pilot 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
Bush arrived in Canberra on Air Force Two on May 6 from Auckland, greeted personally by Hawke only to be told that the RAAF had lost contact with Air Force One. Bush and his party, shaken by the news, were escorted to the U.S. embassy while Hawke ordered (as a courtesy to Bush) two RAAF planes to fly over the general area Air Force One was believed to have crashed in.
On May 8, after no traces of Reagan's plane nor party were discovered, Bush was sworn in as U.S. President by Sir Harry Gibbs, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia at the U.S. Embassy.
On the same day of his inauguration, Bush announced the creation of the American Provisional Administration (APA), located out of the American embassy in Canberra. The goals of the organization were twofold: first, to gather intelligence on the situation, both in the USA and across the world; and secondly, to provide cohesion for the community of American survivors. One of his first acts as president was to order American troops and supplies to Hawaii to prevent the deteriorating condition there.
In June, the famous "Gathering Order" was issued.
U.S. equipment and ships made the combined US/Australian/New Zealand Navy the most powerful of all of the surviving nations, far away more efficient and well-equipped than any other. The USS Carl Vinson, which incredibly survived Doomsday, was the capital ship of the fleet.
More to come...
1995: The unification of Australia and New Zealand
Hawke's drive to unite Australia and New Zealand saw its fruition in 1995; as the United States of America was formally ending its existence, a new alliance uniting Australia and New Zealand with the remaining assets of the APA came into existence: the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand. Later in 1995, Hawaii and Alaska both voted to become associate states of the Commonwealth.
While the member nations voted to maintain their political independence, all saw more benefit in a common military and economy. A government, complete with a Secretary General and a Parliament, would be formed that would govern Commonwealth issues, while leaving local and national issues to the respective member nations.
The Australian dollar would be renamed the ANZC dollar and become the new currency for the Commonwealth.
The four member states formally merged their militaries into the new Commonwealth military division, which was further strengthened by the assets of the United States Naval ships and military units that had responded to the Gathering Order.
Of course, there was criticism of the new Commonwealth, mainly by far-right groups concerned about national identity being swallowed up by a more homogenous group, as well as the extra layer of bureaucracy that came with the establishment of the Commonwealth. Conspiracy theorists even suggested the ANZC was the precursor to a one-world government, a theory that died out around the turn of the century but regained steam when the League of Nations was formally announced.
One purpose for the Commonwealth was 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 USS Carl Vinson and controversy
The USS Carl Vinson was rechristened as the ANZS "Commonwealth" (ANZ-01) and the new Flagship of the combined ANZC Navy, along with American submarines and other ships already operating under Australian command.
This step caused intense political debates among the population of Australia and New Zealand concerning the reusage of nuclear fission in any way, especially for military purposes. Although a majority agreed to the government 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.
Still, the addition of the American ships allowed the CANZ Navy to operate on a global scale and provide humanitarian support in other nations.
Initially, the Australian/New Zealand allliance and the South American countries were glad to see each other having survived the cataclysm of Doomsday.
Pledges to work together on numerous fronts were given by leaders on both sides, and in the 1980s joint scientific and medical projects showed a promise of helping the Southern Hemisphere get back on its feet.
Influential politicians and military leaders on both sides, however, saw the opportunity for their respective regions to succeed the US and USSR as the world's sole superpower...and saw the other as a potential threat.
While the Commonwealth and South American militaries lobbied for bigger budgets to strengthen their forces, politicians in both regions gradually raised rhetoric to bolster their own status, at the expense of the "enemy" (and often the truth). Australian politicians claimed Communist influence in Brazil and Argentina, while politicians in many South American countries (starting with Venezuela) claimed America nearly destroyed the world and that - in the words of one leader - "its lackeys in Australia are anxious to finish the job."
Their voices were countered by more temperate ones who just as fervently called for peace between both sides, and that they must work together as one, given their status and responsiblity as the world's new superpowers.
What nearly no one counted on, however, was the distaste of the public in both regions for the increasing rhetoric and the fear that another world war may start over what amounted to pride and rhetoric.
Even as political tensions rose, and the two sides argued over nearly everything, the people were calling for peace.
In August 1994 Australian and UAR ships faced down one another in a virtual stand-off on two fronts: the Pitcairn Islands and French Polynesia. While diplomats in Canberra and Montevideo sought to quickly resolve the dispute, popular protests in favor of peace arose overnight. Large numbers of people gathered from Caracas to Buenos Aires, from Darwin to Canberra, Rio to Lima, Brisbane to Auckland, in non-violent protests calling for peace and for both parties to work together.
No one wanted a second Doomsday - not even those in charge. Cooler heads on both sides prevailed politically and militarily.
Starting with negotiations ending the tense standoffs in the Pacific, the predecessors of the ANZC and the South American Confederation began working to end their mutual disagreements.
A dispute over the Panama Canal a few years later threatened to undo all progress and bring both entities to all-out war.
In 1996, the ANZC informed Colombia that, as the legal successor to the United States government, it had proper rights to the formerly U.S.-administered canal zone. For the next few years the dispute never went beyond political debate.
In 2000, the ANZC naval flagship - the ANZS Commonwealth supercarrier - visited the Gulf of Panama, retracing the route the USS Benjamin Franklin had peacefully taken a few years before.
This time, however, things turned violent. A party was allowed to land to speak with the military commander in Panama City, but a dispute arose when he refused to allow the ANZ officers to take a boat up the canal. The argument became heated, and shots were fired. The ANZ crew returned to their ships under fire; bypassing Colombia and Ecuador, they did not stop until they reached 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 its ongoing claim to the Canal Zone, the ANZC and its ships were specifically excluded. This was a clear violation of the 1977 treaty; the idea that their ships would be essentially cut off from the Atlantic trade was unacceptable to commercial concerns in Australia and New Zealand, and most of the people agreed with them.
Meanwhile, protests continued on both sides of the Atlantic, dying down largely as threatened conflicts died down, only to reerupt whenever conflict became possible.
In 2003 the ANZC government dispatched a naval squadron to Panama. Officially it was only going to defend the country's trading rights, and there was no formal declaration of war. However, its intentions were clear. The ships anchored off the Pearl Islands in the Gulf, where marines landed and began constructing a makeshift base. Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela sent their own ships to attack their position. They were joined by a small force from the United American Republic that happened to be in the region. The ANZC squadron fought fairly brilliantly and held its own. However, it was running short of supplies and was unable to force a landing on the mainland. It had no allies in the region: neutral Costa Rica said that if it landed in the Gulf of Puntarenas, Costa Rica would not protect it. So the ships were forced to retreat. They returned to the Commonwealth having achieved nothing except alienate the entire continent of South America.
The ANZC had alarmed South Americans since it had come to be eight years earlier. The attack on Panama only confirmed the common assumption that the Commonwealth was merely the latest incarnation of the infamous Anglo-American imperialism. The incident galvanized the South American nations into going forward with plans for a military and economic alliance of the entire continent. Whereas before the attack several countries had refused to discuss the alliance until certain issues were resolved, afterward they had no choice but to bow to political, military and (somewhat) popular demands. Diplomats and presidents met in May 2004, and on June 2 they declared the formation of the South American Confederation. The status of the Panama Canal was one of the issues discussed at the first meeting. It was agreed that control of the Canal Zone would be handed to the SAC at a future date, but that Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, as the canal's builders, would have guaranteed seats on a five-seat commission to govern it. This model would later be adopted by the League of Nations for administering its international territories.
The following year, the ANZC tried again. This time, however, it had laid some groundwork by discussing the canal with the one other power that really stood to benefit from open access: the USSR. The Siberians would not commit to a full-fledged joint military action - "imperialism", they called it - but they agreed that it was in their interest to keep the canal open to everybody, not just South America and its allies. Rather than a naval squadron, Australia-New Zealand agreed to send a "trading convoy" with a heavy-armed naval escort to Nicaragua, where it would be joined by Siberian ships for the trip to Panama.
In September 2005, a most peculiar fleet came cruising into sight of the Pearl Islands, which they had been annexed to the Canal Zone and now housed a small base. The fleet was heavily armed and consisted mostly of naval vessels, but in the middle of the formation were several humble-looking cargo ships. Most peculiar, though, to the observers on the islands were the flags: the Southern Crosses flew alongside a few Hammers and Sickles - both sides of World War 3 were bearing down on Panama. The Siberians and the Oz-Kiwis gambled that South America would not risk war with both powers.
The gamble paid off. The ANZ-Siberian fleet avoided open conflict. Diplomats traveling with the fleet demanded free passage through the canal and offered to 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, not an external threat. 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. However, the ANZC could not be persuaded to drop its claim of a permanent right to defend the Canal Zone. The treaty was only temporary, with a term of only five years. But it successfully prevented a disastrous war.
Relations between the blocs improved after that. ANZC voters, tired of imperialistic grandstanding, elected the Commonwealth's first Green parliament in 2006. The same year saw the election of Juan Manuel Santos, who had been educated in the United States and Britain, to the Colombian Presidency. Santos downplayed his US connections during the campaign, but they may have 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.
When the LoN was founded in September 2008, relations between Oceania and South America were at a high point despite growing economic competition. Within weeks of the LoN's founding, they began to renegotiate the 2005 treaty. This time, a new power bloc had emerged in the Atlantic in the form of the Atlantic Defense Community, an alliance of states in Europe and North Africa, together with Canada. The ADC states joined with Siberia and Australia-New Zealand in pressuring South America to adopt a more expansive policy toward other countries' rights in the canal. Accordingly, the 2008 treaty states that the SAC may not discriminate against the ships of any nation passing through the Canal Zone, except in case of war. SAC nations and France are also allowed to keep their privileged status, since their treaty rights predate the 2005 settlement. In addition, the League of Nations was allowed to station a "supervisory" commission in the CZ. It has no actual power in the Zone's governance, but was put in place to monitor the CZ and make sure the treaty terms are carried out. Unlike the 2005 agreement, the Treaty of 2008 has a term of fifty years.
While the divide between both sides has significantly cooled down, both sides grew to see each other not as enemies but as rivals, competing for dominance in the post-Doomsday world. They also recognized the need to work together, in ways that would be for their own benefit as well as that of the globe. This led to the formation of the LoN, as well as the re-establishment of joint scientific, technological and medical projects.
The emergence of the successor to the Soviet Union in Siberia, plus the uncertainty regarding potential threats in Africa and Asia, have led the ANZC and the SAC to join together to help police the world and end the next global threats before they can grow.
The 21st century
One of the main tasks of the Commonwealth was defined to secure the survival of as many citizens of the two countries - and to a certain degree all survivors - in the rest of the world as possible.
Some regions in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor operated as de facto protectorates/possessions since the founding of the ANZC, and would eventually formally join the Commonwealth.
Based on the intense and solid cooperation of the two nations which both weathered Doomsday comparably well, the ANZC has become one of the key players in the post-Doomsday world.
As the Commonwealth became known around the world, many outside the region erroneously saw it as one nation covering the whole of Oceania. Only the militaries of the various nations were one - politically, they were very separate entities, though they worked closely together and had strong relations with one another.
Occasional actions by the Commonwealth's political arm - such as sending a single representative to the League of Nations, and receiving dignitaries on behalf of all members - have sent contradictory messages to the rest of the world on whether the Commonwealth is truly unified in all respects or not.
With that in mind, the Australian and New Zealand governments have taken steps to confirm their political independence and assert it in the post-Doomsday world.
Australia's current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is becoming a major voice on the global political scene. A strong advocate for Australia, Gillard has rankled his counterparts in South America with his pro-Commonwealth and pro-Australia views. New Zealand's current Prime Minister, John Key, has taken a less rancorous profile, and as a result his country currently enjoys somewhat more favorable relations with South America than Gillard's Australia.
The single ANZC representative in the LoN, at its founding in 2008, was soon replaced by the representatives of Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Alaska, Hawaii and other Commonwealth-associated nations.
All member nations continue to designate and send separate ambassadors to the various global nations, and Australia and New Zealand's governments are actively promoting themselves as "independent but allied friends" in the business world and travel industry.
In popular culture, television shows and movies are being marketed increasingly as Australian, New Zealander , Hawaiian, or Tongan, while musicians are referred to by their country of origin rather than the "ANZC" or "Commonwealth" designations they had in the 1990s and the 2000s. In most sports the various members retain national sides; only in association football (soccer) is there one unified team; while the Commonwealth will again field a unified side in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the sport's governing body, FIFA, has encouraged separate federations for the member nations.
The League of Nations
The CANZ was a founding member and the initiator of the League of Nations and hosted the foundation ceremony on September 26, 2008 in Canberra. It enjoys good relations with all nations and has no "enemies", although the South American Confederation acts as more of an economic and political rival than an enemy.
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.