Friday, July 30, 2010
AUSTRALIA'S Asia-born population was growing almost as fast as the Australian-born population in the year before the federal government cracked down on immigration rorts, new figures show.
The Bureau of Statistics' annual migration estimates show Australia's migrant population rose by more than a million in the five years to 2009, topping the 808,000 growth of the Australian-born.
In 2008-09 alone, the overseas-born population rose by 271,360 or 5 per cent, the bureau estimates. The Australian-born rose by 185,360 or 1.2 per cent.
In a stunning figure, the bureau reports that two-thirds of Australia's net migration was of people aged 15 to 34 helping significantly to offset the ageing of the population.
The fastest growth was in the Indian-born population, which grew by 44,012, or 17 per cent. The Chinese-born grew by 30,009, or 9 per cent, and the total Asian-born population by 172,050, or 10 per cent.
By mid-2009, the Chinese were the largest non-Anglo community in Australia. Their numbers grew by two-thirds in just five years to 350,979.
The Indians were just behind them, with the size of the Indian community more than doubling between 2004 and 2009 to 308,542.
The figures predate federal government moves to shut the back door through which foreign students in low-level courses have stayed on in Australia as workers. In 2009-10, student visa grants have fallen by 70,000 or 31 per cent, with net long-term arrivals showing a similar fall.
The data comes at a sensitive time, with immigration now one of the key issues of the election campaign. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has pledged to limit net migration into Australia to 170,000 by 2012-13, without saying how.
The bureau finds that in 2007-08, 31,419 overseas students entered Australia to start vocational education and training courses, but only 4064 former VET students returned home.
In all, 135,165 foreign students started courses of one kind or another, but only 26,423 returned home. Part of that was because the industry was growing very fast, but part was because for many, studying in Australia was a stepping stone to permanent residency.
The Howard government opened up this option in 2001 to encourage foreign graduates with scarce skills to work in Australia. But when it extended this to the VET sector, foreign enrolments exploded in cooking, hairdressing and hospitality courses.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans has now closed off this option in reforms to limit skilled migration to those with higher-level skills.
The British remain Australia's largest migrant group, with 1,188,247 permanent and temporary residents in mid-2009.
New Zealanders are second with 529,178 residents.
OUR DIVERSE NATION
WHERE WEVE COME FROM
BIRTHPLACE GROWTH 2004-09, POPULATION MID-09
Australia 808 16,139
Overseas 1020 5816
Asia 621 1881
South Pacific 126 664
Africa 85 279
Europe 78 2421
Middle East 62 330
Americas 48 241
Total 1828 21,955
India 168 309
China 140 351
New Zealand 109 529
Britain 67 1188
Korea 44 95
Philippines 42 169
South Africa 40 149
Malaysia 31 130
Vietnam 25 204
Sri Lanka 22 87
SOURCE: AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS.