The “I’m moving to New Zealand” line’s been thrown around a bit in the wake of Australia’s federal election result on Saturday. A lot of people find themselves bitterly disappointed with the prospect of living under a Morrison-Liberal government for the next few years, and are expressing that disappointment by claiming that they’re going to simply up and leave the country altogether. Talk is cheap. But if the numbers on New Zealand’s immigration website are anything to go by, a fair few of them might actually put their money where their mouth is.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) revealed that the number of people in Australia looking at its website on Sunday—the day after the election—increased more than tenfold compared to the same time the week before, SBS reports. Registered expressions of interest—the first step in the visa process—increased by more than 25 times. More than 8,500 people visited the New Zealand Now website and 512 registered interest, compared to about 20 registrations on May 12, the government department said. Google analytics also showed a spike in Australians searching the words 'moving to New Zealand', according to TVNZ—particularly those from Queensland.
It’s worth flagging that Australian citizens don’t actually need visas to move to New Zealand, so we shouldn’t assume that the INZ stats point to an impending mass exodus of people permanently emigrating across the ditch. As INZ general manager Greg Forsythe points out: "it is important to note these are purely registrations of interest in coming to New Zealand and does not necessarily translate to the number of people actually moving to New Zealand."
The fact remains, though, that a hugely inflated number of people in Australia were at least looking into the details surrounding a move after the results of the federal election were announced on Saturday night. Moreover, the statistics don’t just include Australian citizens but anyone currently in the country—meaning it could have been temporary Australian residents or people with Australian visas who were looking into the prospect of making a move.
Jennifer Curtin, politics professor at Auckland University and an expert in trans-Tasman politics, suggested that the sudden interest in emigrating to New Zealand could be a temporary reaction to voters’—particularly progressive voters’—disappointment that Labor didn’t win. When the economic realities of actually moving country were fully considered, she said, people’s enthusiasm was likely to wane.
Earlier this month, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was ranked Australia’s most trusted politician in a poll conducted by data company Millward Brown. Ardern outshone a number of Australian politicians by a significant margin in terms of “believability”—including the winner of Saturday night’s election Scott Morrison. Ardern scored 77 on the believability index, while Morrison scored just 43.
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