NZ closing income gap with Aust: Govt

New Zealand has closed the gap on after-tax earnings compared with Australia and seen the number of people moving across the Tasman cut by half, the Government says.

The Government is keen to keep people here, as Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures show every New Zealander who moves to Australia costs the country $14,000.

The number of people moving to Australia had dropped by half - to about 15,000 a year, Prime Minister John Key said.

He said the Government was working through issues, including wage rises, to keep people here.

"We're taking some steps but there is a big job in front of us."

Wages had risen 9 percent under the National Government compared to 3 percent in Labour's nine years in government, he said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill English told Parliament real after tax wages had increased by 8.7 percent since September 2008, compared to 4.8 percent in Australia in the same period.

That was because Australia had significantly higher inflation than New Zealand during the period, he said.

New Zealand was a long way behind Australia to start with but it was a good start, Mr English said.

His figures were based on Statistics New Zealand's quarterly employment survey.

Last month National and Labour accused each other of "massaging" and "cherry picking" statistics after Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee said the gap between Australia and New Zealand was "certainly a lot less" than under Labour.

Compared with some of the years when Labour was in power he was technically correct, but Labour's figures, recently sourced from Statistics NZ and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed New Zealand's average full-time adult wage had increased $43.14 from the start of National's term in November 2008, to February this year.

The Australian average wage had in the same time risen $A85.90, or $105.66 when converted to New Zealand dollars - meaning the Australian average wage had put a $59.53 gain on New Zealand's in that time.



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