Editorial: Is Perth's glitter just fool's gold?


A few months ago, I was watching a television current affairs show about Perth.

The segment focused on the wealth of the city. There were millionaires galore, boats, penthouse apartments and good-looking people all over the Western Australian city.

I found it interesting and it left me wondering what it would be like to live there.

My interest in the city was again piqued when I read yesterday's front-page story.

Latest figures show 1562 people shifted from the Western Bay to Australia on a permanent or long-term basis last year - more than four times the number two decades ago.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

And while Queensland has long been the darling state for Kiwis, it seems Western Australia, and its capital Perth, are emerging as new favourites for Kiwis seeking highly paid jobs.

The booming mining industry is at the centre of the action.

There is one example of a woman earning $200,000 a year just for driving workers to the mine each day. Others talk of being able to earn more and live a better lifestyle than they can in the Bay.

One jobs website lists a total of 2287 available mining jobs.

Miners' wages have risen 33 per cent in the past five years in Australia to $2673 a week or $138,996 a year - more than double the national average.

I find these figures staggering.

So, on the face of it, Perth sounds great. It enjoys 3000 sunshine hours a year (more than any other Australian city), has 45C weather, plenty of jobs, salaries of up to $200,000, the highest population per capita of self-made millionaires in the world and is rich in natural minerals.

I can see how the city and state is a magnet for people, especially those with no ties to the Bay. There's big money to be made for the right people in the right jobs.

But is the grass really greener on the other side? I'm not so sure.

In today's edition, we explore the issue further.

A Western Australian recruitment expert warns Western Bay people from jumping on the next plane, saying mining jobs pay well but don't come easy and people should do their homework before heading over. Some jobs don't pay so well.

Rent in Perth averages A$420 a week. It would pay to really think about that 45C temperature and just what it would be like.

There are also the jobs themselves. From what I have read, mining is not an easy job.

Perth is also massive, with about 1.7 million people, which begins to remind me of Auckland.

Bay of Plenty Times deputy editor Keri Welham lived in Perth a decade ago, covering fatal great white shark attacks and outback gang murders as chief crime writer for the city's Sunday tabloid. She loved the weather, the beaches and the nightlife. But on subsequent visits she's been tormented by flies, found the suburban sprawl uninviting, and decided the charming beachside city across the Nullarbor has become a brash, ostentatious place built on fast cash.

The Aussie exodus is a serious issue for Tauranga - and New Zealand.

It is important our region retains talented and skilled workers, and losing them to Perth won't do us any good. Chamber of commerce chief Max Mason is right when he says it is concerning skilled people are leaving us.

All this poses a challenge to businesses, business organisations, councils and Government to work together to keep and attract skilled staff.

And there are still jobs in the Bay. A check on the Seek website yesterday afternoon showed 268 currently on offer in Tauranga.

The Bay offers a great lifestyle. It's not too hot and not too cold, has a great beach, and is just a fraction of the size of Perth.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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