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March 8, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Road to Oz paved in gold?

New Zealand grads given more reason to gap it

Latest figures show that the average Australian weekly income has risen 2 per cent to AUS$1226 (NZ$1580). This widens the growing wage gap between Australia and New Zealand, and has reawakened fears of a ‘brain drain’.

The unemployment rate also has fallen to 5.3 per cent, making New Zealand’s decade-high 7.3 per cent look even more alarming.

These figures have provoked a warning from some in the business community that New Zealand could be on the edge of another brain drain period, which would make the recovery from the recession even harder.

These fears are not irrational, as the outlook for university graduates does look far brighter across the Tasman.

Renee Lynch, 20, in her final year of a commerce degree at the University of Queensland, works as a tutor in Brisbane and is paid AUS$29.60 per hour. This is an exceptionally good rate as the average is AUS$23 per hour. However, this far exceeds the price of any tutoring job currently listed on the Student Job Search Website, which offers positions at NZ$15 per hour.

For a casual position in a bar in Queensland, someone over the age of 20 can expect to be paid around A$18.50 per hour, whereas similar jobs listed within the Wellington region on Student Job Search rarely exceed NZ$12.50 for any age.

While the minimum wage in Queensland is AUS$14.20 (NZ$18.28) for over 20-year-olds, Lynch says that “most of her friends (who are studying) don’t work for less than $17”.

The New Zealand Government announced in late January that the minimum wage would increase by 2 per cent from $12.50 to $12.75 per hour. Business NZ agrees that it is appropriate in the current economic climate.

However, the Council of Trade Unions disputes this amount. They say that the cost of living has risen and people need to be earning a suitable wage to support a decent standard of living.

There is one saving grace: the average price of alcohol is cheaper in New Zealand than in Australia. Good for those wanting to drink their pitiful pay sorrows away.


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