Australia has always been a big draw for New Zealanders. Historically, Australian wages are higher for jobs requiring similar skills. For instance, I can earn about 20% extra by crossing the Tasman. The Aussie cost of living is also lower, although tax rates are higher. There are many advantages for being tucked away in the South Pacific, however, when your nearest neighbour is three thousand miles away transport costs for essential imports are always going to be high. And then there is the climate. The New Zealand climate varies greatly. In the far north it is sub-tropical while the southern tip of the South Island's weather is similar to that experienced in Scotland. Furthermore, due to innate geography, New Zealand weather can be unsettled. In contrast, the vast continent of Australia goes from sub-tropical to tropical. In summer it is bloody hot, everywhere. Of course no one moves to a country based on weather alone, otherwise Britain would be bereft of folk.....
But times are a changing. For the first time for many a long year there is a net influx of Kiwis from Australia to New Zealand. Contrast this with 2012 when 54,000 New Zealanders left their native shore to live the Australian dream. So what has changed?
Although New Zealanders have the right to live, work and have access to health care in Australia, they are not entitled to unemployment benefit. This was not always the case. Until 2001, Kiwis had the right to the Australian dole. However, it seemed that too many unemployed Kiwis were moving to Oz with no intention of working but instead hunkered down on the Gold Coast taking advantage of the sun, sea, beach and generous hand-outs (Bondi Bludgers). Understandably the Australian government decided enough was enough and tightened up the rules. Unfortunately for hard working Kiwis who lose their jobs in Oz, the situation can become economically precarious very quickly. With the Australian economy stalling, partly due to the downturn in the mining industry, jobs are becoming hard to find. In comparison the New Zealand economy is buoyant with a budget surplus predicted for the end of the year. Good Jobs, although not plentiful, are there if you care to look. A case in point: After 10 weeks in Australia and after numerous job applications, my son has returned to New Zealand because he could not find work. Ten days after setting foot in his adopted country he has secured three job interviews for management positions.
If the economy in Australia doesn't improve soon we might see the unprecedented movement of Aussies to our fair shore. Watch this space.