What life is really like in glittering Oz

By Sam Boyer

16 comments


Is the grass really greener in Australia? Today, three former Bay people now living across the ditch give their views. Sam Boyer reports.

Anna Bibby moved to Australia with her partner Shane Hutchison about two years ago.

Since then her salary has increased 10-fold.

The couple, both qualified pilots, worked as flight instructors in Tauranga before moving to Moranbah, a small coal mining town in north Queensland.

In Tauranga three years ago, with limited employment opportunities and only being able to work part-time, Miss Bibby earned about $7000 for the year.

Since then, working as a baggage handler for Qantas in Moranbah, she has been earning about $70,000.

Mr Hutchison now works as a linesman, contracted to a mining company.

Miss Bibby's comments come after an article in the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday revealed the number of Tauranga residents migrating to Australia has almost doubled in the past three years.

The number leaving the city has increased from 822 in the year to March 2010 to 1592 in the year to March 2012 - or about 30 people on average each week.

"We originally came over here for the flying work but it didn't quite work out that way," Miss Bibby told the Bay of Plenty Times.

The extra wages have enabled the couple to buy a property on the coast, where they plan to begin building a home.

"We've had a lot more opportunities available to us. There's just so much more industry here. It just makes it easier to get the jobs and keep them."

The difference in the standard of living was huge, she said.

"Shane and I have bought our own property that we own freehold. It was $100,000-odd and we own it outright. It's just the lifestyle of having the extra money, it's been good," she said.

If similar opportunities for employment were available in Tauranga, the couple might consider moving back, Ms Bibby said.

"I think for now, we will just stay and build a house."

Kathie Rooney, who used to work at Baycourt Theatre, is now a team leader for a mortgage team in a Sydney law firm.

Having left Tauranga nine years ago she, like Miss Bibby, said she had no plans to return.

"When I came over my plan was to only stay in Sydney for two years. But why would I go back? There're no opportunities."

Working in Australia had enabled her to earn enough to buy a home - something that would have been unlikely in Tauranga.

"I own a home here. I would never [be able to] own a home in Tauranga. Never. There's no opportunities there and the money is not the same.

"I find it interesting that the mayor thinks [the people leaving] will all come back," she said, referring to Stuart Crosby who said he believed many of those who had moved to Australia intended to move back once they were financially secure.

But 18-year-old early childhood teacher Rebekah Adams said the Aussie dream wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Miss Adams has failed to find full-time work in Brisbane since moving eight months ago and has only recently found part-time cafe work.

"It's not what I had in mind but I had to just take what I could get. Heaps of people make out you'll come over and go straight into a job but it's not like that. I've only got 20 hours a week and I'm on junior rates, which is only like $11 [an hour]. If I don't find a [better] job this month I'll head home."

Mr Crosby stood by his stance that people would return, but said work needed to be done to lure them back.

"Sometimes people do need to go away and earn money and get a start in life. I did the same thing in my early twenties.

"Our role in local government is to create an environment where they will want to come back, where they can see a future. It's about creating opportunities for them here. It's about giving them confidence."

The mayor's opinion, echoed by the Chamber of Commerce, that the majority of those leaving for Australia were likely to be tradespeople, was discounted by sector heads.

Registered Master Builders' Tauranga association president Brian Foster said he had not heard of any significant exodus of builders leaving for Australia.

"It's probably more people that are labouring, driving, that sort of thing. As far as tradesmen leaving, personally I don't know any," he said.

Master Painters' Bay of Plenty president Todd Pickett said the problem was not so much with Australia but rather with decorators heading to Christchurch.

"It [business in Tauranga] has been slowing for three years or so. A lot of guys have hung in there, but there's only so long you can hang in for."

Contributions

exaussie: Heres my 2 cents worth, we have just come back after 25 yrs in brissie and it is tough over there too especially after a shocking labour government that has raised taxes so high. I was quite shocked at the no of kiwis coming over and struggling there so dont go to the cities go to the mines and work hard come back and buy yourself a bussiness here. Getting a bit sick of kiwis rubbishing nz and its pay, we have so much wealth here but as long as the greenies and minorities stop mining etc nz will never be rich. We are so happy here in the bay with fishing surfing and better schools for the kids and a much better lifestyle . My advice go for 5 yrs earn heaps $$$ come back and not have the stresses of trying to get ahead here.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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