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$130,000 job Kiwis are moving to Australia for: ‘$20,000 relocation bonus’

Queensland Police are offering a $130,000 salary and $20,000 relocation bonus for people like Dion Nelson-Screen to join the force.

Queensland Police are offering a $130,000 salary and $20,000 relocation bonus for people like Dion Nelson-Screen to join the force.
Queensland Police are offering a $130,000 salary and $20,000 relocation bonus for people like Dion Nelson-Screen to join the force. (Queensland Police)

The cost-of-living crisis is forcing more Australians to look for opportunities that will pay them a better wage than they're currently earning. And while there are a handful of "exciting" $130,000 roles in Queensland, Aussies are being beaten to them by prospects from across the ditch.

A $20,000 relocation bonus was the “final push” Dion Nelson-Screen needed to make the trip across the Tasman to enrol as a Queensland police officer. He has five years of experience as a cop and is one of 51 recent graduates of a program designed to retrain officers to work in the state.

“Living in such a sunny environment while working in the profession I’ve loved for the last five years is really exciting, the increase in pay is an added bonus,” Nelson-Screen said.

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Half of the graduate cohort from the 16-week program were from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

A spokesperson for Queensland Police Service (QPS) told Yahoo Finance it wasn't just New Zealanders jumping at the opportunity. There were 15 other internationals from Canada, France, Scotland, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Sometimes employers will offer huge perks to attract workers to regional or remote parts of Australia, like a doctor's surgery in Western Australia that promised a chance to earn up to $450,000 a year, plus free rent and a free car.

But, these graduates aren't expected to log any regional hours and can be placed anywhere in the state.

Incentives like the relocation bonus are a key part of the Queensland policing branch’s furious recruitment blitz, which Police Minister Mark Ryan said had resulted in a 200 per cent increase in applications since last year.

QPS has also offered hundreds of university graduates to pay off $20,000 of their HECS debt in a bid to lure them in. Plus, recruits can enjoy free accommodation at the police academy, a $183 cost-of-living allowance and a "boosted training salary" of approximately $53,700 a year.

First-year graduates can expect to be paid a starting wage of $84,999, but experienced officers can walk into the $130,000 pay bracket – the highest senior constable pay point.

Nelson-Screen said the pay bump was a big motivator for him to move to Australia.

Dion Nelson-Screen moved from New Zealand to become a police officer in Queensland.
Dion Nelson-Screen moved from New Zealand to become a police officer in Queensland. (Queensland Police)

Salaries are generally higher Down Under. The minimum wage here (which is set to rise on July 1) is $21.38 an hour, while it’s locally it's $21.20 in New Zealand. When you convert to the Aussie dollar, that’s $19.69.

According to SalaryExpert, the average base salary in New Zealand would equate to approximately $73,968 here.

The same site estimated the Australian average base salary to be $87,214.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found the full-time adult average weekly earnings (seasonally adjusted) were $1,888.80, or about $98,200 annually.

However, this can be skewed by outlying high-income earners.

The median weekly income was $1,300 (before tax) so half of all Australians are earning less than $67,600.

But are Australians earning enough to get by? New research YouGov released Friday indicates no.

Two-thirds of Australians surveyed were considering picking up extra work and two thirds of them said the rising cost of living was to blame. So how far would that Aussie paycheque go?

It's not just police recruits like Nelson-Screen and the dozens who graduated with him who are moving to Australia.

Matthew Campbell told Yahoo Finance he and his partner decided to move 2,500 kilometres to Brisbane and can now comfortably afford their suffocating mortgage back home after landing a better paid job.

His mortgage bill doubled from $1,680 to $3,080. The New Zealand cash rate is currently 5.5 per cent. Australia's is 4.35 per cent.

“You can't live your life,” the 33-year-old told Yahoo Finance.

“I feel like I can breathe over here. I can afford to have a meal and not have to worry every fortnight when the pay comes in,” he said.

"I love New Zealand ... but I don't know why I didn't do this years ago. Everything is so much better, like the weather, and the pay."

Matthew Campbell and his wife moved to Brisbane because it was too difficult paying his mortgage in New Zealand.
Matthew Campbell and his wife moved to Brisbane because it was too difficult paying his mortgage in New Zealand. (Supplied)

He said “everyone is struggling” to cover the basics, like groceries and bills.

“The toilet paper and the food and everything is so expensive. You're already spending so much on the mortgage. And then, on top of that is all the expenses," he said.

“I wasn't living over there anymore.”

New Zealand is the fourth largest migrant community in Australia, making up 7.6 per cent of the overseas-born population and 2.3 per cent of our total, according to the ABS.

There are several different visa options and benefits (like reciprocal Medicare access). Immigration of New Zealand nationals rose in the 2023 financial year. However, the estimated 15,000 new arrivals is lower than the 2021 high which exceeded 34,000.