Rose Brennan, in the Daily Telegraph
AUSTRALIA’S greatest city is now more Chinese than British — with yesterday’s Census data revealing how much the incredible boom in Asian migration has changed the face of Sydney. In the past 25 years, the percentage of overseas born migrants in Sydney residents from China has risen an incredible 500 per cent. And for the first time ever, the greatest proportion of migrants in the Harbour City are from China rather than England.
Chinese-born residents make up 4.7 per cent of Sydney’s 4.8 million people compared to 3.1 per cent from England. With 1600 people moving in every week, the census data shows NSW is home to about half of all of Australia’s 500,000 Chinese-born residents. The largest data-driven portrait of Australia also revealed the Muslim population has doubled. At the same time, it showed a record 30 per cent of Australians no longer identify as having a religion at all.
Social demographer Mark McCrindle said the boom in Chinese migration to NSW was a clear sign Australia’s historic connections with Europe had been swapped for Asian ties. “We are clearly now a nation looking north not looking back to Europe,” he said. “There’s been a shift in migration from European to Asian with the number one overseas country of birth for NSW residents now China — it is quite the change.”
Greater Sydney is home to over 40 per cent of the nation’s Muslim population, which has risen from just over 340,000 in 2006 to over 604,000 people in 2016.
Census data also revealed the growth in capital cities was twice that of other areas which Mr McCrindle said would partly be the result of overseas migrants wanting to live only in major urban areas. “The migration numbers show that 86 per cent of all migrants born overseas end up in our capital cities,” he said. More than a quarter of Australians are now born overseas with 18 per cent of migrants arriving just within the past five years.
About 27 per cent of people do not speak English at home.
The number of Chinese-born Sydney residents a decade ago made up just 2.6 per cent of the population and just 1 per cent of Australia’s population. While in 1991 just 0.5 per cent of Australia’s population was born in China as was just 0.8 per cent of NSW population.
In 1986 just 0.4 per cent of Australia’s population was born in China while in 1976 it was even lower at 0.2 per cent. University of Western Sydney’s Dr Laura Zhong, who moved to Australia 10 years ago, said it was an ideal country to raise children in. “It is less competitive, and a healthier environment for the kids to grow,” she said. “It is more affordable here than a first tier city, like Shanghai or Beijing.
“A lot more people have this idea of moving overseas and because of the migration policy Australia or Canada is the first choice of the list.” Lindsay Liu moved to Australia after discovering the “beautiful” country with “clean” air as an international student six years ago. She now works at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University and wasn’t surprised Australia was increasingly popular.
“There are a lot of students coming to Australia to study, as they have the first-hand experienced living in the beautiful country, and they bring positive feedback back to China,” she said.
The census data also revealed that the number of childless couples were on the rise, now making up 38 per cent of Australia households. That’s a 15 per cent jump from 23 per cent in 1991.
Mr McCrindle said the given the recent IVF boom, the increase of childless couples could indicate people were simply choosing not to have children. “The fact that the proportion of couples staying childless hasn’t reduced in an era of IVF does tell us that bit by bit couples are voluntarily choosing to remain childless.” Mr McCrindle said the figures also reflected couples in their 20s waiting until their 30s to have children as well as Baby Boomers whose children had left home.
For Northern Beaches teacher Richard Goodwin and his wife Janine, a solicitor, the importance of career and family finances currently outranked any desire to have children. “You put your career ahead of children, making sure you have good job security, a good house, rather than an apartment,” the 30-year-old said. He and Janine, who is also 30, do not want to take on the expensive costs of raising children in Sydney until their finances are more secure.
The Census also revealed Sydney is the largest city in Australia growing by an average of 1656 people per week. Camden is the fastest growing local government area in NSW with a growth spurt of 37.9 per cent between 2011 and 2016. It ranked as the fourth-fastest growing council region in Australia.
PAUL Wong was just 18 when he moved to Australia with his parents 15 years ago. Now 33, the Hornsby resident said he liked Australia’s natural environment which provided a break from built up city environments from his native Hong Kong.
Paul Wong was just 18 when his family came to Sydney from Hong Kong
“Australia is getting popular for Hong Kong and China now, it’s a popular country for immigration,” he said. “When I first got here I thought it was very peaceful, I love the country, everywhere was green, I love the green, not just urban city.”
Mina Zou, 27, a permanent resident originally from mainland China said she moved to Sydney three years ago. She said Australia was very stable and loved the lifestyle.