Return to Oz: Is the brain drain back?

Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. (Picture: File photo.)

29 October 2017

Liam Dann – NZ Herald Business Editor at Large

The fortunes of our neighbours across the ditch are one of the most underrated influences on the New Zealand economy. Australia is our biggest trading partner and by far the number one destination for New Zealand migrants and tourists. It’s also our biggest source of inbound tourists and immigrants.

But Australia has underperformed in the past few years as commodity prices slumped and it suffered the come down from the great mining boom.

For many Kiwis the New Zealand job market has looked like the better bet with huge consequences for population growth in this country. Now as the Australian economy roars back into life and the job market picks up, we may need to brace ourselves for a shift in migration flows that could also hit our GDP growth.

As recently as 2012 the flow of migration to Australia was a significant drag on New Zealand’s population growth.

But as Australia’s economy slipped into post-mining boom doldrums the trend changed rapidly. For more than two years, up until the latest data released this week, New Zealand was in the black, gaining more migrants from Australia than it lost. Less New Zealanders left home and many who had been in Australia for years returned home.

“New Zealand we described as a rock star economy not just because of the GDP performance, but also because policy settings have been very positive. The big difference between Australia and New Zealand is that the public finances are in better order and NZ has been able to get back to a budget surplus,” Bloxham says.

[Read the full NZ Herald article].

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