Rebuild more attractive than Australian dream

Last updated 13:00 26/05/2013
 University of Canterbury's Dr Rosemary Baird
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University of Canterbury's Dr Rosemary Baird

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New Zealanders are realising the Australian dream is not so perfect after all with work harder to find and less lucrative, a University of Canterbury (UC) management researcher says.

 The number of New Zealanders heading to Australia has slowed to its smallest monthly pace in almost three years, as New Zealand's economic prospects begin to look better.

 Seasonally adjusted, almost 2000 more people left New Zealand for Australia than arrived in April, according to Statistics New Zealand. That's the lowest monthly migration since September 2010. About 45,700 New Zealanders left the country for Australia in the year ended April 30.

In the last 12 months New Zealand's economic recovery has gathered pace as the Canterbury rebuild gains momentum.

UC researcher Dr Rosemary Baird says economic factors are not the only reason people migrate.

"Often Kiwis leave New Zealand because they are escaping personal unhappiness, failure and dissatisfaction. Moving to Australia is seen as an opportunity to chase dreams of adventure, new relationships and a better life.  

"But once New Zealanders start hearing through the media and personal connections that the Australian dream isn't so certain, that work is harder to find and less lucrative, then they are more likely to reconsider.

"I suspect that this is what has been happening in recent months  where there are increasing stories in the media about Kiwis who move to Australia, fail to find work, and then find themselves adrift without citizenship or social security entitlements.

"In addition, the quickening pace of the Christchurch rebuild is creating new job and business opportunities. For some New Zealanders, internal migration to Canterbury is now a viable, even superior, alternative to Australia.

"I certainly don't think that migration to Australia will drop significantly unless Australia finds itself in a far weaker economic position than New Zealand. Australia will remain an easily accessible,  warm, culturally familiar destination for those looking to move overseas.

"The myriad of business, family, and government connections will continue to encourage easy movement between the two nations.''

 Dr Baird says New Zealanders considering a move to Australia will now do so more carefully. New Zealanders would be foolish to move across the Tasman without first obtaining work, or investigating the job market, cultivating contacts and researching housing options. 

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 In her interviews with New Zealanders who moved during the late 20th century there were plenty of stories of unprepared Kiwis falling on their feet in the 'lucky country'. 

While migration to Australia is still very possible for many Kiwis, economic success is currently less assured. No doubt some potential Kiwi migrants to Australia will now reconsider and look to join the Christchurch rebuild instead,'' Dr Baird says.

- Fairfax Media

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