Statistics New Zealand no longer measuring ‘brain drain’ to Australia

Statistics New Zealand no longer measuring 'brain drain' to Australia


The amount of New Zealanders leaving for Australia has been a concern for some years, since the number started skyrocketing in the 2010s. In 2012, the number of Kiwis moving across the ditch almost doubled since 2007. 

It became known as the ‘brain drain’ – the idea that New Zealand was losing its best and brightest workers to other countries perceived to have more opportunity, such as Australia, which is Kiwis’ most popular destination for permanent migration. 

When asked if he considered the statistical impact of ending departure cards, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Newshub he was “confident that Statistics New Zealand and our other government agencies have the data they need”.

“The advice that we received was that the information is being gathered in other ways and that the departure cards were no longer useful as a source of statistical information, and therefore were really something that would get in the way of travellers.”

He said he could not comment on the information disclosed to Newshub by Statistics NZ as he had not seen it. But he did say he was given “very consistent advice” that “that there are other ways of gathering that information”.

One avenue currently being explored is to harness data from other countries of migrants arriving there from New Zealand.

However, Statistics NZ said that data often doesn’t exist or is difficult to access, but is “feasible for Australia, given similarities to New Zealand in their border crossing system, data collection and statistical concepts”.

Statistics NZ said it is “already in discussions” with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to access the “currently unpublished” data, but said the Australian data is “not available with the same timeliness as Stats NZ publishes New Zealand data”.

The unavailability of information on the ‘country of next residence’ of migrant departures was a recognised impact when the decision to remove the departure cards was taken in 2018 – although the proposal had been underway for several years.


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