22 February 2006

Increasing numbers of Kiwis seek Oz sunshine

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It seems the lure of Australia's booming economy, higher paying jobs and better opportunities remain irresistible to New Zealanders.

Statistics New Zealand figures issued yesterday, show 22,500 more citizens left New Zealand for Australia than returned last year - up almost 34 per cent on 2004.

It is the highest net loss to Australia since a net 24,600 left in 2001.

Overall, New Zealand gained 7000 people more than it lost during 2005, about half the 15,100 gain of 2004.

National's finance spokesman, John Key, said the number of New Zealanders voting with their feet and moving to Australia was alarming. He noted the tax reductions recently announced by Australian Treasurer Peter Costello coupled with Australia’s booming economy as key issues.

His view was echoed by Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly, who said the latest figures showed how important it was for New Zealand to become more competitive to attract skilled new migrants.

O’Reilly cited Australia’s productivity, superior infrastructure, higher-paying jobs and better opportunities as a few of the reason Kiwis as are looking to improve their chances abroad.

New Zealand Labour Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said the movement of people between Australia and New Zealand depended on the relative strength of either economy.

He says the Government is not worried about the data at all. And that the Government are working with a number of programmes to ensure that New Zealand is a winner from net migration flows. Recently the New Zealand Government pushed to encourage qualified expats to return to New Zealand and increased the number of skilled migrants, particularly where there were skill shortages.

Mr Cunliffe said that approach resulted in higher numbers of professionals moving to New Zealand.

Yesterday's figures showed professionals recorded the largest net inflow of all groups, with 1500 more architects, engineers, health professionals, nurses, teachers and business, legal and computing experts arriving than leaving.

However, there was a net loss of 85 technicians and associated professionals, 630 service and sales workers, and 638 plant and machine operators.

Migration peaked to New Zealand in 2002 when 38,200 more people came to live in the country than left.

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