The cornerstone of National’s ‘New Zealand sucks’ campaign is that Australia is much better (and we have to lower taxes and slash work rights to catch up). Now, the Sunday-Star Times produced a well-researched article on standards of living here and in Australia. A year late, but good to see, nonetheless. The conclusions:
- Your tax is lower but your wages are docked 9% for superannuation; NZ super comes out of your ordinary tax. Likewise, you pay 1.5% for Medicare (partial health funding) and if you earn over $100K you are meant to get private insurance or you pay a higher levy; health is funded out of ordinary tax in NZ.
- Services for pregnant women are worse and there’s no paid maternity leave. GP visits cost more there and medicine isn’t as heavily subsidised.
- The public education system is so deficient that most middle class kids go to private school, and their parents have to pay the extra costs, unlike in NZ. Private school is even more expensive in Aussie than here.
- If you buy a house or a car, you pay stamp duty of about 5%. Then there’s the mortgage tax. Plus, interest rates are higher.
- But renting is more expensive too. An apartment in Melbourne will cost 60% more than a similar one in Auckland.
- Cars are more expensive and also attract stamp duty. Annual registration is three times what you pay in NZ.
- Food and drink are more expensive and often of lower quality.
The one thing Australia does have over NZ (apart from weather) is wages, and the reason Australia’s wages are higher is they didn’t have 9 years of anti-worker labour law in the 1990s. Unions are much stronger in Australia and that translates into higher wages and, ultimately, higher productivity. Now, there’s one area where we should be imitating our cousins across the ditch.