The Australians have it right
Firstly, let me say that I live in Melbourne, have done for almost four years now but it was really only the Global Financial Crisis that brought me over here, combined with a chance phone call from an old university friend.
I'm an office worker - already a contrast to the many stories I read about the blue collar, 'real', people. That might already have some people rolling their eyes and heading back to their thermos and sandwich, but I'll continue on with my merry tale nonetheless.
In December 2008, I was made redundant by one of the so-called 'evil' Aussie banks. Great Christmas present that was.
It wasn't just a job that I had fallen into, or got by luck - I worked hard and this was my chosen career in what some might say a glamorous area of the bank. I was deflated and worried because the economy had turned to crud and little old New Zealand didn't exactly present me with a rich choice of opportunities.
To make matters worse, I had a student loan, which when combined with the tax policy in New Zealand of treating redundancy payout as a lump sum earning, saw me taxed within an inch of my life.
Sure, there was a small rebate from the new saviour John Key who - according to the National Party - was only beginning his process of returning New Zealand to the lofty peaks of the OECD group of Economies (how has that gone by the way?).
After the Government had reached into this newly unemployed persons wallet and taken the income tax, my loan was automatically paid off in full - I simply didn't have a choice.
After a few months of pounding the pavement I got a call from a Kiwi mate I knew from university who had a spare room in his suburban Melbourne house that I could crash in until I found a job. So I sold my watch, did a little busking and combined that with what John Key had left me I bought a plane ticket. I left the green shores of God's own country for the Great Southern Land that Icehouse sung about.
I had a job within a week, not in my chosen role mind you, but in pretty much the same role that Kiwi employers had frowned over my CV and told me I needed five years experience in London to have!
In a professional sense I can tell you the move was a no-brainer. With more people comes more commerce and more opportunity. But, as all New Zealander's I know here will attest to - the job thing is only a small part of the attraction.
Let me make a further rider here before I continue - I'm from a small East Coast town and I miss home, miss the outdoors and the ocean, always will. New Zealand simply can't be beaten in that regard and I'm back at least once a year to immerse myself in it.
I also love sport and music but it's pretty nice to live in a country that the New Zealand Rugby Union doesn't effectively run.
I'm pretty old school and the main difference between Australian society and that of my homeland is the lack of apathy here. There's a competitive streak in most people and there's none of this 'everyone's the winner, we don't keep the score' rubbish. The reality of the world is competition that we don't seem to get in New Zealand.
If infrastructure needs to be built to put a train line next to the MCG they build it! There's no year long public submission process and red tape in this country.
Australians realise what side their bread is buttered on - when I told workmates that New Zealand used to have a charity 'Fight for life' event but the beneficiary trust backed out because of the bad image of violence, they laughed! "So a charity turned down free money?" they jibed. This is just one of many examples I can cite of the difference in society.
I love New Zealand and I always will, I hope to return one day. I have to be honest however and say that I probably won't be back until I retire - from my perspective the greater opportunities and higher standard of living tips the balance in favour of Australia.
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