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Behind National’s emigration wailing

Written By: - Date published: 12:09 pm, February 29th, 2008 - 26 comments
Categories: im/migration, national - Tags: ,

National likes to talk down New Zealand, to portray this great country as underperforming, to exaggerate our problems, and to cast our unique traits and values as barriers to ‘success’ (success is becoming a more homogenised off-shoot of American capitalism). A great way to further the message is wailing about people leaving for Australia – without providing any policy to stem the flow, of course (clue: pay cuts won’t help, John). So, predictably National was full of false outrage over the latest migration figures: net emigration to Australia last year of 28,615. But is this really a big deal?

First, what is migration? It is when a person moves from one country to another intending to leave for longer than a year and when a person who has been away longer than a year returns. A German who was here for a year and leaves counts as an emigrant from New Zealand in the headline figures. If you go on a 2 year OE to Sydney, you are counted as an emigrant even though you haven’t left for good. So, an increase in emigration doesn’t have to mean more people are leaving forever. It can be that more people are doing OEs, and that’s down partially to demographics and economics. If (as currently) there are more young adults and they are more likely to have jobs with decent pay to save for travel, you have more OEs.

Second, is the country emptying out? No. 28,615 people would be a lot of people to have at a party but its only 0.67% of the population. Plus, we receive more immigrants than we lose emigrants every year.

Third, is this an unprecedented level of net emigration? No, it’s within historical norms. Migration is cyclical; the last peak was 2000 (at a higher level than today), the last trough, 2003.

Last year, 99.33% of Kiwis liked their country so much they stayed. Some left for short periods, and some left forever but they were more than replaced by new New Zealanders who also think this is a great place to live. If only National felt the same way.

emigrationnzcitizens.JPG

26 comments on “Behind National’s emigration wailing”

  1. My god! National lets the facts get in the way of a smear??? Tell me it ain’t so…

  2. That should be National “doesn’t let the facts”

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    Don’t worry, dear ‘sod. National wouldn’t do that.

    capcha: that Uruguayan. My question: which one?

  4. Phil 4

    So, you mean all that hot-air Labour blew during the 96 and 99 campaigns about brain-drain was just false outrage? And all their talk about keeping our best and brightest in NZ through a student loan lolly scramble was just nothing but political burp?

    Thanks for clearing that up!

  5. Feel free to explain to us Phil, how exactly the solution to the current net migration loss would be to put back in power the exact same guys who presided over even bigger net migration losses in the late 90s? I’m struggling with the logic of this one.

  6. highstandard 6

    Psycho

    Yes you apparently are

  7. Steve Pierson 7

    Phil. There was actually net emigration in the late 1990s, there is net immigration now.

    But, yes, brain-drain arguments are largely insubstantive.

    I think you can appreciate that interest-free student loans do help to keep people here. Having to pay that interst adds significantly to the cost of emigrating. And the need to get overseas to earn as much as possible immediately to pay off an interest-bearing loan is gone.

  8. Steve Pierson 8

    higherstandard.Is that really the best answer you have? Concede that National is worse but say ‘vote for them anyway’?

  9. Daveo 9

    For more information, see; Russia, stalinist-era, purges in.

    You can do better than that Phil.

  10. ghostwhowalks 10

    Remember the last two national leaders both Brash and Key, were ’emigrants’. Brash studied for PhD in canberra and went to work for the World Bank in Washington, so got counted twice.

    Key we remember , was told to cut wages in the bankers Trust business in NZ he was running so he sacked everybody in order to get his promotion in Sydney. But Australia didnt keep him for long, hes been an emigrant for most of his adult life.

    And hasnt kept still even in NZ, as he cant remember where he sleeps some nights, Peak Rd or St Stephens Ave

  11. higherstandard 11

    Ghost are you trying to make some point – sorry but it escapes me.

    Steve – sorry my post was conceding that psycho was indeed psyco nothing more nothing less.

  12. Matthew Pilott 12

    For all this shite’n’trumpets, there’s only 389,000 New Zelananders living in Australia (2007 census data). That’s obviously a fair few of us, given our population is 4.1 million or so.

    However, in 1996, it was 291,000. That means that there are an extra 100,000, over the space of 11 years. Fewer than 10,000 people on average, and nothing approaching Key’s cake-tin-a-year. He must’ve been baked to come up with that figure.

    At that rate, 29 years of kiwis moving to Aussie would get us to the 1996 figure. Doesn’t look so bad, all of a sudden, hey?

    What does this tell us? It’s pretty clear that the headlines are just that – headlines and little more. Their statistical use is absolutely nil. Why’s that? This mass exodus, the Flight of the Kiwis searching for a better life in Australia are:

    A – not finding it

    B – experiencing some form of genocide

    C – not actually moving to australia for a better life, but going for a big holiday

    D – moving on to explore the world

    E – all of the above (probably excepting B 😉 )

    I think I’ll be able to sleep at night now, knowing that people will still be here when I wake up – Nats had me worried for a bit though.

  13. Billy 13

    I think this line is going to haunt the Nats. I doubt that there is anything a government can meaningfully do to stem this tide. It is hard to imagine a set of economic events in control of the government which would lead to incomes in NZ being higher than in Australia.

    So when in 2010 the situation is not improved despite two years of National running the economy, what are they going to say?

  14. Tane 14

    Billy, have to agree with you on that one. I suspect Key is over-promising and if he wins this year he’ll be faced with an economy in a period of downturn and an inability to deliver. The health system will still have problems, youths will commit crimes, interest rates and inflation will remain stubborn and New Zealanders will keep moving to Australia.

  15. Tane, I agree completely with your comment.
    The good news (for me anyway) is that key is likely to steal less money from me in the form of tax. And that my friend is the only thing that matters to me and many like me. The feeling that I have had my pocket picked is not going to go away but all indications are that he will steal less then Clark.

  16. Billy 16

    You get the sense that they have thoguht things through as far as getting into power, and no further.

    Still, I won’t miss your lot.

  17. r0b 17

    I suspect Key is over-promising and if he wins this year he’ll be faced with an economy in a period of downturn

    Absolutely true. Key will face a very tough time. And something else is new this time round too. The Net. Google. Blogs. The Standard.

    If Key “comes to power” there is, easily accessible to all, a complete history of his quotes, to hang him with. (He really should give some thought to this, as he rushes about trying to make political capital out of eternal problems).

    I must admit, as the Kiwiblog Right pile on like bullies in a school yard, beating the nerd over the head with their great big poll ratings, that the thought (if we lose in 2008) of the 2011 election does bring a wee smile to my lips!

  18. r0b 18

    To each their own!

  19. And that my friend is the only thing that matters to me and many like me.

    At least you’re honest. I’m glad you’re in a minority though.

    Higher Standard: for someone with nothing of consequence to say, you seem to spend a lot of time yapping.

    Billy: spot on. If Labour loses, I anticipate years of pleasure taunting my fellow No Minister bloggers with emigration figures remarkably similar to the current ones – or worse.

  20. Santi 20

    “If Labour loses, I anticipate years of pleasure taunting..”

    Don’t doubt it for a minute Psyucho. Your wish will be granted in November 2008, when socialist Labour will lose big.

  21. K1 21

    Santi: “socialist labour”.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing!

  22. higherstandard 22

    Yes psycho

    Perhaps I should apply for a position on Labour’s front bench.

  23. Tane 23

    Richard Hurst, I think I just accidentally deleted a comment of yours when trying to approve it in moderation. My apologies.

  24. Ruth 24

    Off topic – but Tane you and the other writers here, and most of the posters, are turning this blog into NZ’s best.

    Although I disagree with a fair bit of what you guys write, the debate is usually of a very high standard. I had given up on pollie blogs since they seem to be populated with misogynistic drunks with an axe to grind. Even worse is the fact that they are tolerated and welcomed in most places, but not here.

    Well done!

  25. ak 25

    rOb: “..the Kiwiblog Right pile on like bullies in a school yard, beating the nerd over the head with their great big poll ratings”

    Heh heh, quite right rOb, you wonder why they bother with this infantile ranting when this poll of all their wet dreams should be making them happy. Methinks they do clobber a bit much, which suggests to me that even they realise that their great big pole is just a wee bit more flaccid than they would like to believe.

    Remember:
    (1): Higher than ever volativity in the polls – 4% gap in Oct, 8% just a few weeks ago
    (2): Add on the Green vote and even the current ridiculous gap requires a swing of less than 7%
    (3): 70% of those surveyed refuse to take part
    (4): Only landlines polled – never been so many on cellies
    (5): Most important: no issues of substance yet broached, the press still focusing on trivia and heavily biased towards Key and the manufactured “demise” of a great PM.

    All great fun for the journos and grist for the tory bile-spitters, but our deciding middle voters’ sphincters will tighten considerably as the day draws nearer. Practical kiwis enjoy the odd cartoon and mock-tragedy, but prefer reality when it comes to their kids’ futures: in the only poll that matters, experience and substance will always trump a grinning chimera of the marketers’ imaginations.

  26. the sprout 26

    nicely put ak.

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