The number of New Zealanders living in Australia has jumped 24 per cent over the past five years and a new political party is calling for a limit on Kiwis crossing the Tasman.
The results of the 2011 Australian census, released yesterday, show that the number of New Zealanders living there reached 483,000 last year, up from 390,000 in 2006. The five-year increase is almost as big as the surge in the previous decade.
Immigration expert Professor Paul Spoonley of Massey University said the figures were not surprising, especially in the context of New Zealand's relatively flat job market. "The important push and pull is the job market, on both sides of the Tasman.
He said the figures also reflected an increasing trend in New Zealanders moving across the Ditch to be closer to family members. "This is an increasingly important reason for [those] moving to Australia, especially as the number of New Zealanders living there continue to grow."
The figures emerged as Australia's Stable Population Party called for the abolition of the deal allowing Kiwis free access to Australia. The party, formed after the 2010 federal election, says the transtasman immigration arrangement is a "one-way street" which benefits neither country. It says Kiwis should have to apply to migrate and wants total net migration reduced from 180,000 to 80,000.
"It's not about keeping Kiwis out - we're happy to have a preferential migration with New Zealand - but it should be within a balanced migration programme," party founder and president William Bourke said.
"We're just saying we don't believe in open border arrangements. In two years' time, if there's another earthquake in Christchurch or what have you ... it seems to be getting ever bigger a one-way street and it wasn't designed that way."
Despite the close historical and economic ties with Australia, "nothing justifies an unlimited immigration programme unless New Zealand was sinking under the ocean", he said. "In that case, humanitarian compassion would come into it ... this is a lose-lose migration arrangement because New Zealand is losing a lot of its best-trained professionals and Australia is suffering great population stresses."By Matthew Theunissen Email Matthew, Teuila Fuatai Email Teuila