More Kiwis than Brits moving to Australia
By DAN EATON - The Press | Wednesday, 14 November 2007

New Zealand has overtaken Britain for the first time as Australia's main source of permanent new migrants, with nearly 3000 Kiwis crossing the Tasman every month.

Warmer weather and higher wages have seen the number of New Zealanders heading across the Tasman jump 70 per cent in the past four years to 679 a week, the Department of Labour says.

The exodus meant nearly one in every 10 Australian residents born overseas was born in New Zealand, said the department's quarterly migration report.

A total of 35,300 Kiwis moved to Australia in the year to September, while only 8700 migrated back. By contrast, 13,579 Australians moved to New Zealand.

Some of the reasons Kiwis moved to Australia could be addressed through adjusting government policy settings, but others were beyond its control, the report said.

"Some of these factors, such as higher relative wages and a shared labour market, can be influenced by policy settings," the department said.

"However, other factors that cannot be influenced by policy drivers, including Australia's warmer climate, close proximity and similarity in culture, also contribute to the large number of departures."

Ministers were reluctant to comment yesterday and newly appointed Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove was in Europe.

The Government has said while it was concerned by the flight of Kiwis abroad, the situation did not represent a crisis as those leaving were being replaced with skilled immigrants from other countries.

It has also stressed New Zealand was competing in a tight global labour market, with countries like Australia actively trying to attract skilled Kiwis.

The National Party says increases in numbers crossing the Tasman are a failure of the Labour-led Government to raise wages and cut taxes.

The Department of Labour said that with such a large outflow to Australia, inward migration was increasingly vital for meeting skill shortages, emphasising the importance of policies that attracted the right kind of migrants.

"Outflows of New Zealanders across a range of skill levels are leading to the increased use of temporary migration to meet both skill and labour shortages," it said.

The report said the workforce drain had serious implications for skill levels in New Zealand, but the losses had so far been more than offset by the Government's focus on skilled migrants.

"This means that, should current trends persist, migration may contribute to a raising of the average skill level of the labour force over time," it said.

In the past year, the fastest-growing origin for permanent long-term migration to New Zealand was Asia, while arrivals from Europe fell.

The report said those heading for Australia tended to be broadly representative of the New Zealand workforce, rather than highly skilled workers, indicating the so-called brain drain across the Tasman may be a myth.

From here .