Australia is facing a flood of economic refugees. But the big numbers aren’t from the north, they are from the across the Tasman, where Statistics New Zealand yesterday announced the biggest exodus to Australia on record.
An extraordinary 53,900 New Zealanders moved to Australia in the year to July – around the entire population of New Plymouth, New Zealand’s 11th biggest city.
The number dwarfs the 9607 asylum seekers who arrived in Australian waters by boat.
The record emigration of 53,900 is a big increase from the same period a year before when 46,450 New Zealanders moved to Australia – itself a record at the time.
”These are economic refugees,” New Zealand Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway told Fairfax.
New Zealand’s unemployment rate is 6.8 per cent, little changed since the economic crisis. Australia’s is 5.2 per cent, well down on the peak of 5.9 per cent reached during the crisis. ”New Zealand was hit much harder than Australia,” Mr Conway said. ”We didn’t have the big boost in government spending you had that pushed unemployment back down. Before the crisis, our unemployment rate was briefly the best in the OECD. It is now mid-range, much worse than yours.”
New Zealand wages are around 20 per cent lower than Australia’s when measured in terms of purchasing power.
The Closer Economic Relations agreement with New Zealand means Australia is unable to control its trans-Tasman border. It is required to accept as permanent or long-term residents as many of New Zealand’s 4.4 million residents as want to move here. If trends continue, Australia’s annual intake from New Zealand will exceed 100,000 within five years.
The statistician says New Zealand has had no net arrivals over the past year. It has taken in 14,000 migrants from the United Kingdom, its biggest source of arrivals, and 14,000 from Australia, almost all of them returning New Zealanders.
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