Saturday, March 06, 2010

We're getting economic refugees

The New Zealanders are back. After the best part of a year of being unusually cold on the idea of moving across the Tasman, New Zealanders are heading west as they used to before the economic crisis. Typically measured in the thousands per month New Zealand migration slowed to just 1140 in the worst month of last year allowing China for the first time to displace our near neighbour as our biggest source of migrants.

But Australia's improving economy and labour maket appear to have enticed our neighbours to take the plunge once again. More than 2200 made the plunge in January pushing New Zealand back into the top spot ahead of the China and the UK.

New Zealand's unemployment rate climbed to 7.3 per cent in December while Australia's fell to 5.5 per cent, and subsequently in January to 5.3 per cent.

Although Opposition Leader Tony Abbott claimed this year "New Zealand has done just as well it seems as Australia without going into anything like the same level of debt and deficit that we have"... New Zealand was in recession for five consecutive quarters. Australia recorded only one quarter of negative growth and according to the Reserve Bank this week is now experiencing growth "close to trend."

A near-record 558,500 Australians left the country as tourists in January meaning nearly 1 in 40 Australians were out of the country.

At the same time the high dollar and bleak economic conditions overseas pushed Australia's annual "tourism deficit" to a record high.

"In the year to January, a record 713,500 more Australians travelled overseas for holidays than foreign tourists coming to our shores," said Commonwealth Securities economist Craig James. "While 5.6 million tourists are visiting our shores, almost 6.4 million Australians have been taking their holidays abroad."

"It is not just that the Aussie is near US90 cents, but it is also near decade highs against the Euro and 25-year highs against the British pound."

"All parts of the tourism sector are affected by the lofty Australian dollar. The high dollar deters foreign tourists from visiting our shores and the numbers are less likely to be made up by Australians taking holidays at home."

"Even for the short stay market, if someone has their sights set on a trip to the US or UK, they are less likely to be taking a short break at home; deciding to save up instead for the big trip."

New Zealand remained the biggest holiday destination for Australians, followed by Indonesia, the United States and Thailand.

Published in today's Age

From: Gruen Transfer

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