Budget 2019 model quit New Zealand for Australia due to cost of living

6:58 pm on 30 May 2019

The woman pictured on the front cover of the government's Budget left Auckland because of the cost of living, and now lives in the Gold Coast.

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Vicky Freeman says she was forced out of Auckland due to the cost of living. Photo: RNZ / DOM THOMAS

Vicky Freeman, 40, was alerted by a friend a couple of days ago that she was the face of the Budget along with her daughter Ruby-Jean.

A Kiwi who moved back to New Zealand after a decade in Australia but went back after living in Auckland for a year said her life is better in Queensland.

"I love New Zealand - beautiful country and my family's there. But honestly it was just the cost of living that drove me away, which is really sad," she said, from her home on the Gold Coast.

"It was sort of a no-brainer really to come over the Australia where I could work, better pay, cheaper petrol, better living. I feel good here.

"And the weather - it's kind of a bit depressing. The sun's always shining on the Gold Coast."

She was paying $500 a week in rent for her and her daughter, and she was earning less than that. She received sole parent support, but couldn't make ends meet.

"I just didn't want to do another year of having to struggle. You're always struggling as a single parent, but I knew coming to Australia it wouldn't be as much of a struggle."

Simon Bridges delivers his speech

In his Budget speech opposition leader Simon Bridges mocked the fact that the woman on its cover, Vicky Freeman, has moved to Australia. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

She said the photo was taken at Long Bay, on Auckland's North Shore. The photographer put it on Getty Images, where it was bought by Treasury for the budget document.

Ms Freeman said she saw the irony in it, considering she struggled so much while living in New Zealand as an aspiring actress and model. A second dose of irony: it's her highest-profile modelling gig.

"I didn't know what to think, I was sort of in a bit of shock ... I was sort of happy and proud, as well as overwhelmed a little bit too," she said.

"I didn't think [the photos would] ever be used to be honest," she laughed. "Who'd want a photo of me and my daughter hanging out?"

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