Kiwis moving to Australia: Why National-led Government will struggle to stem flow – The Front Page
Politicians across the political divide have expressed concern about the number of New Zealanders leaving for Australia, but there’s very little anyone can do about it in the short term.
The latest data shows a net migration loss of 44,500 New Zealand citizens in the year ended October 2023 – just shy of record levels. This was more than offset by a net gain of 173,400 non-New Zealand citizens, but there are concerns we are losing talented Kiwis to other countries.
NZ Herald reporter Ben Leahy tells The Front Page podcast that by March this year there was already a net loss of 17,500 Kiwis to Australia.
“It’s running at historical highs,” says Leahy.
“Between 2014 and 2019, we were roughly losing about 3000 people. And you go back to between 2004 and 2013, we were losing roughly 30,000 each year. So, while it dropped off for a while, it’s picking up again. Australia has been an attractive destination for Kiwis for a long time.”
Economic forces also contribute significantly to migration statistics. In the global marketplace, companies around the world are now competing for talent no matter where they currently live. A small change to visa rules here or there could lead to a sharp uptick in people moving one way or the other.
“A migration expert told me that Australia had actually tightened up some of their visa rules for migrants coming into their country, so employers were suddenly headhunting Kiwis because they still had access to them,” says Leahy.
“In a global economy, that’s the sort of thing you’re up against. A country switches their visa rules and suddenly there’s a pull for Kiwis across the Tasman.”
Australian employers have been targeting Kiwi employees with lucrative job advertisements. And those who have snapped up jobs in Australia have enjoyed significant salary bumps.
One teacher Leahy spoke to saw his salary jump up by tens of thousands of dollars after making the leap.
“He was earning $70,000 here in Hamilton, but he left and he’s now on $91,000 plus superannuation payments. That is pretty much the story for lots of people I spoke to.”
Given that these market conditions aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, the Government of New Zealand will find it difficult to unravel the forces pulling Kiwis abroad.
“A lot of these problems are historical and systemic,” says Leahy.
“Things like salaries and housing [affordability] can’t be fixed overnight. I haven’t seen anything that’s going to change those fundamental problems in one term of Government. You probably need a few to terms to have any impact on any of them.”
So what are some of the factors drawing Kiwis abroad? Is the grass always greener? Why do some Kiwis come back? And what needs to be fixed about NZ to keep Kiwis home?
Article written by (Damien Venuto, www.nzherald.co.nz. Original article)