Aussies' hard line stems flow over ditch

The trans-Tasman exodus has slowed - and a tough approach to giving Kiwis living in Australia welfare benefits could be responsible.

The number of people heading to Australia is at its lowest level in almost two years, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand figures on permanent migration.

The net loss of migrants across the ditch in November was 2800, the lowest loss since February 2011 - the month of the Christchurch earthquake.

Since the earthquake the average net loss to Australia has been 3300.

For the November 2012 year, a net loss of 38,800 to Australia was recorded, slightly down from the record loss of 40,000 for the August 2012 year.

Yet despite the high numbers heading across the Tasman, more than half of 613 Dominion Post readers questioned in a readers' survey said they had never considered leaving New Zealand for Australia.

Only 4 per cent of respondents said they had seriously thought about leaving, while 17 per cent said they occasionally entertained the idea and 23 per cent said they thought about it "once in a blue moon".

Respondents to the survey, which had a plus or minus 4 per cent margin of error, were generally older, with 88 per cent aged over 40.

A big deterrent for many seemed to be the lack of social support available to Kiwis when arriving in Australia.

New Zealanders are issued with a special visa that allows them to live and work in Australia indefinitely.

However, they are refused access to most social support available to other long-term residents, including unemployment payments.

In Queensland, these restrictions extend to public housing and disability support.

Several comments from the survey about why they would not move point to worries about what would happen if they needed government assistance.

"I considered it before the Australian Government started treating New Zealanders worse than anyone else," one comment said.

Creepy crawlies were another popular excuse for staying put.

"It has snakes, poisonous spiders, crocodiles and, worst of all, Australians!"

Many people also cited a love for the country they were born in, stating they had no desire to leave New Zealand and its laidback lifestyle.

"My direct relatives came in 1859 from the UK for fresh air and clean water. I think these things are still relevant, so will stay."

Some people did state, however, that if it were not for their age they would be on the first flight across the ditch.

Money seemed to be the main reason people believed moving would be a good idea, with several people commenting that they had friends and family in Australia who were much more financially comfortable than themselves.

"Would go in a hearty [sic] beat if I could afford to," one respondent explained.

For the November year, in total New Zealand recorded a loss of 1600 migrants.

The Dominion Post