Some things about Australia and New Zealand can be easy to confuse: they both occupy the same corner of the southern Pacific, and accents — and flags — can be hard for some to differentiate.

It was the last of those similarities between the trans-Tasman neighbours that left the Philippines Department of Energy with faces almost as red as the stars on the New Zealand flag.


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Both flags are mostly blue and display the Union Jack in the top left-hand corner, with the Southern Cross constellation proudly displayed on the right-hand side.

However, a key difference between the two is that New Zealand’s Southern Cross is displayed in red, with a white outline, while Australia’s Southern Cross is pure white, and the Australian flag also has a prominent seven-pointed white star — known as the Commonwealth Star — directly underneath the Union Jack.

The Philippines Department of Energy might want to take note of those key differences after last week seating Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Steven J Robinson, directly behind the New Zealand flag.

The picture was used to promote last week's landmark hydrogen memorandum of understanding between the Philippines government and Australian company Star Scientific, which was facilitated with help from the Australian government.

Thanks to Covid-19 safety measures, Robinson was wearing a mask so we are unable to tell from his face just how upset the Australian ambassador may have been.

While New Zealanders claim Australians have tried to take credit for many of their famous exports — such as pavlova, lamingtons and even Russell Crowe — it is unclear if they are as happy to claim their neighbour's ambassador to the Philippines as their own.