Health Minister said base salaries of nurses the same as Oz – are they?

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall has been caught using outdated data to make inaccurate claims that New Zealand nurses are on the same base salaries as those working in Australia.

Bases salaries in Queensland are $12,000 to $19,000 NZD more than in New Zealand on the current exchange rate.

In Victoria and New South Wales, the base salaries are closer to New Zealand, but can still be up to $6000 NZD more.

An intermediate nurse in New Zealand, for example, earns $80,883 NZD. In Queensland, a nurse on the same level earns $97,597 NZD. In New South Wales it's $83,613 NZD and in Victoria $84,551 NZD.

In the past three weeks on radio and Twitter Verrall has claimed base salaries here are now the same as in Australia.

“Our base pay rates, are for the first time ever, the same as Australia,” Verrall said on RNZ recently.

A Kiwi nurse in Queensland Dylan-Tane Moore said there’s a nearly $20,000 difference in base pay and the minister’s statements were disingenuous.

“It's a really sad and unfair statement to make by the Health Minister, and really embarrassing actually. She should be very much aware of what's going on overseas," Moore said.

The Minister had relied on old data provided by Te Whatu Ora as evidence for her claims.

Base salary rates for nurses in NZ, Victoria, NSW and Queensland

“I relied on the advice I was given in March when those pay equity interim payments were made. That information was correct at the time. It's changed a little since then. But of course we are now still very similar to Victoria and New South Wales,” Verrall said.

Te Whatu Ora’s website used two-year old data for Queensland in a comparison table of wages between Australia and New Zealand. It did not specify the currency or the date it was from.

The Australian nurses union confirmed to 1News the data was incorrect for that particular state.

Following questions from 1News, Te Whatu Ora updated the pay scales, and specified the currency and dates.

When asked if Te Whatu Ora was being misleading, the Health Minister said she hadn’t gone back over that advice.

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall

On April 1, Queensland nurses got a 4% rise, but even before that its base salaries were up to $16,000 NZD more than in New Zealand.

Moore moved to Australia a year ago and knows of 20 others from his old DHB in Waikato who have also shifted to Queensland.

“At least 70% to 80% of Kiwi nurses would come to Queensland. It’s warm, the pay rates are substantially better than New South Wales and Victoria,” he said.

Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said Kiwi nurses working in Australia are sending their time sheets back home for old colleagues to see.

“You can’t fudge the time sheets that are being sent back, and that is the thing that is attracting our nurses to go,” she said.


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