Rick Morton, in The Australian, 30 January 2015, where the title reads “Migrant Wave not seen since the Gold Rush“
DREAMS of a better life, education and solid investments have fuelled movement of migrants to Australia, with more than 28 per cent of the resident population born outside the country. That equals about 6.6 million people, numbers not seen in 120 years or since the tail end of the gold rush, said the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Denise Carlton.
The figures chart the continued rise of China and India as source countries and the decline of people moving here from Britain.While the fastest increases in migrant populations between 2004 and last year were from Nepal, Brazil and Pakistan, China and India still led the way outside the traditional Britain-New Zealand leader bloc.
“Overseas migration has been a large contributor to the total Australian population growth for several years: it has consistently been the main driver since 2005-06, contributing more than 50 per cent of population growth in Australia,” Ms Carlton said. “While the largest migrant groups were people born in the UK and New Zealand, with a total of over 1.8 million Australian residents being born in those two countries, the next two most common birthplaces were from the Asian region.” These were China and India, with about 450,000 and 400,000 respectively. Still, net overseas migration dipped almost 10 per cent in the past year.
Hong Kong-born Chiu-Hing Chan, 31, migrated to Australia with his parents in the late 1990s. “My parents wanted a better education for me and job opportunities for them. But there has definitely been a change among that demographic about why they are coming,’’ Mr Chan said. “These days, for a lot of the Chinese, it’s more or less about retirement, which dramatically changed the ballpark for the government because it wanted people to bring money with them.”
The Significant Investor Visa program provides places for those with at least $5 million of approved investment. As of last month, almost $3 billion had been committed through 595 granted visas, almost 89 per cent Chinese.
The Australian National University’s Peter McDonald, the Crawford School of Public Policy professor of demography, said some of the single biggest cohorts contributing to net overseas migration were on working holidays. “The other big factor is those on student visas who have been encouraged to study at higher-education institutions, and they make up most of the Nepalese and a large part of India’s numbers.”
Mr Chan, the managing director of Australia China Corp, which exports local produce to Chinese markets, said that in his experience first-generation migrants were slow to adapt to Australian life. “But the second generation are very Australian, so to speak, and the third generation really try to rediscover their roots,” he said.