The weekend found Matt McCarten in a pensive mood:
We’ve failed our kids and they’re off to Oz
In three weeks my daughter flies to Melbourne with a group of her mates to start a new life. All of them are young university graduates in low-level jobs and just want out. They say most of their friends have either gone or are planning to go because there isn’t the opportunity here. …
We are actually raising our kids to live in Australia. All of us have either family or friends who have already made the choice and it’s accelerating.
An analysis by the NZIER think tank on the Brash 2025 Taskforce predicts more than 412,000 Kiwis will move to Australia over the next 15 years. That’s 500 a week. It’s like transplanting the entire population of Wellington, the Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast across the Tasman.
The analysis shows that we have invested $200,000 in the education and health care of a 23-year-old university graduate like my daughter. Their conclusion is our investment in the Kiwis choosing to move to Australia is $30 billion. Lucky Australia, stupid New Zealand.
To halt the exodus, we had the head of the taskforce, Don Brash, proposing dropping the minimum wage altogether. Apparently this would help free up the market and create higher-paid jobs. If you wonder why Brash hasn’t raised the Act Party’s polling after he decapitated Rodney Hide you need look no further than this sort of ideological nuttiness.
And oddly we had our Minister of Labour this week musing about reintroducing youth wages for workers in the 18 to 24-year-old bracket. Kate Wilkinson quickly backed down after an outcry, but the message to our next generation is clear. Screw you! …
Surely there is something deeply disturbing about the country we have created when our children have to leave us to build a better life?
Perhaps the mobile young were heeding the advice of Bernard Hickey in his influential open letter from 2009:
Dear Generations X and Y
Did you realize the baby boomers running the country have just decided to make you poorer for decades to come so they can retire early with all the assets and high incomes?
Did you realise your taxes are going to rise and you won’t be able to afford your own home? Did you know the baby-boomers are refusing to save their own money now for their retirements so they can live off your hard work?
Did you know you will be slaving away paying high taxes in your 40s and 50s to pay for their pensions and health care? Did you know you’re wasting your time trying to build a family and life in New Zealand? Did you realise you have huge student loans while they received free tertiary education? …
Your only choice is to migrate as soon as the global economy starts recovering and the jobs become available again. This will be the best revenge you can get. They will have to watch their grandchildren grow up by email and the occasional flying visit.
I’m not kidding. Leave ASAP.
Young Kiwis have always travelled to see the world, nothing wrong with that. But when so many leave and too few choose to return, then something is deeply wrong. I blame student loans as the main effect. The last Labour government did a lot of good, but I can’t help but feel that they missed the chance (possibly the last chance) to make tertiary education free again. Yes education is an individual benefit, but it is also a public good, and a public gain. Investing in education is the best investment a country can make. How dumb are we to be exporting $30 billion worth of educated Kiwis to Oz?
Now National are, inevitably, making matters even worse (yet another failed election promise). On top of student loans add high unemployment, a stagnant economy, stagnant wages, anti-worker legislation (sorry – a “flexible” labour market), talk of punitive youth rates until age 24, and a general lack of vision and direction. There’s little to keep the young here, but there’s big trouble ahead for the country without them.