Exodus to Australia 'flattening out' 1000 Kiwis cross ditch every week

NICK KRAUSE
Last updated 10:02 22/09/2012

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Australia's job opportunities will continue to woo more Kiwis across the ditch.

However, the annual loss of workers appears to be levelling out, an economist says.

More than 1000 Kiwis a week have crossed the Tasman in the last year, data from Statistics New Zealand reveals.

While the latest August migration data showed the annual net loss to Australia hit a record 40,000 in August, ASB economist Daniel Smith said that has been 'flattening out' in the last six months and could even change if the job market in Australia contracted.

The international travel and migration data showed a record 53,900 people left permanently or long-term for Australia in the year to August, offset by 13,900 Kiwis returning home. 'The August migration data supports the view that a steady net outflow will continue, driven by departures to Australia,' he said.

'Given the currently stronger Australian labour market, that is likely to continue for the time being.'

But the situation could change. Smith said the state of the Australian mining industry and the Canterbury rebuild would be key factors to watch going into 2013.

ANZ economist Mark Smith also believes the figures could swing. 'Inflows could pick up sharply if the situation in Europe deteriorates and the Australian employment market dries up,' he said.

But Green Party co-leader Russel Norman slammed the National Government's failure to protect and create jobs. Since National came to power, 166,373 people had crossed the ditch, he said.

'In 2008 John Key stood in the 36,000-seat Westpac stadium to symbolise the number of people leaving for Australia, and promised to end the exodus,' he said.

'Four years later he has failed completely.'

Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway said there were 271,000 jobless and another 110,000 looking for extra hours of work. 'These figures, shocking as they are, would be even worse if it was not for the outflow to Australia,' Conway said.

He said the scale of loss was damaging as it undermined communities, separated families and saw investment in education and training benefiting Australia. Fairfax NZ

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