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The Herald on Sunday editorial

Herald on Sunday editorial: Greener pastures on our side of the ditch

Photo / Supplied.
Photo / Supplied.

New Zealanders can be excused for thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the Ditch. What's not to like about the bright lights of Sydney and Melbourne, the relaxed, sun-drenched lifestyle on the Gold Coast, or the big money on offer in a booming Western Australia?

We are bombarded by campaigns selling these attractions and offering, even indirectly, a commentary on what we have here. Many have succumbed to the message and packed their bags. Yet most New Zealanders are happy with their lot here.

As much is indicated by this week's Key Research-Herald on Sunday poll, where people were asked whether they would live in New Zealand or Australia if they had the choice. Only 12.7 per cent said they would choose Australia.

That low figure is more surprising because 40.3 per cent of those people consider the standard of living better in Australia. Nonetheless, they are not persuaded that this outweighs the many benefits of living in their own country.

Part of the reason may be increasing publicity about the downsides of life in Australia. People now realise that if they cross the Tasman they will not have access to most of Australia's welfare safety net, including dole and disability payments. Neither can they expect higher-education assistance for children they take with them.

Living does not come cheaply, either. If an international housing-affordability study released this week highlighted the plight of first-timers trying to buy in Auckland, it was notable that Sydney was even less affordable.

Only Hong Kong was worse in terms of the median income needed to buy a house.

Then, of course, there are the attractions of this country, many of which are undervalued because of their familiarity. These are confirmed by the number of migrants who continue to choose to live here. The latest figures, for November last year, show a net gain of 600 migrants - the highest seasonally adjusted gain since December 2010. Also in the same month, fewer New Zealanders left for Australia.

The grass across the Tasman is beginning to look parched. Except in the mining centres of Western Australia, jobs are harder to find.

And increasingly, a more temperate climate is not to be scorned.

More New Zealanders are coming home. They can reaffirm what those who were never tempted to leave these shores knew all along: there is no place like home.

- Herald on Sunday

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