Friday, June 17, 2011
New figures from the Bureau of Statistics estimate the number of Asian-born residents in Australia has virtually doubled in the past decade from 1.03 million in mid-2000 to 2.01 million in mid-2010.
In that time, they have made up a third of Australia's population growth. Roughly half have come as students and half as skilled workers and family members settling here to fill gaps in Australia's workforce.
The Bureau estimates that in that decade alone, the number of Chinese-born people living in Australia has more than doubled from 148,000 to 380,000 by the middle of last year.
The number of Indian-born residents has more than trebled in that time from 96,000 to 340,000.
The largest number live in Melbourne, where they now outnumber Italians to form the city's largest non-Anglo community.
The Bureau figures exclude West Asia (from Iran westwards), which the Bureau classifies as part of the Middle East. Migration from that area too has risen sharply, partly due to refugees from the Iraq war.
It is a stunning transformation from the old reality of White Australia, the policy that banned Asians from settling in Australia from the late 19th century until it was gradually dismantled between the mid-50s and mid-70s.
In 1947, only 0.3 per cent of Australia's population had been born in Asia. But their numbers have roughly doubled with every decade since, rising to 2.5 per cent of the population by 1981, 5.5 per cent by 2000, and 9 per cent by mid-2010.
By contrast, Australia's European-born population effectively peaked several decades ago, when Europe became rich enough to remove the incentive to emigrate. It has basically hovered around 2.4 million since, shrinking from 17 per cent of the population to just 10.8 per cent.
British migrants now make up roughly half that total, numbering just under 1.2 million in mid-2010. New Brits keep arriving as the old pass away, but for some years, the number of Australians born in Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Malta or the old Yugoslavia have been steadily shrinking.
Within two or three years, the number of Asian-Australians is likely to overtake the number of European-Australians.
New Zealanders remain the second biggest migrant community and just keep coming. By mid-2010 there were 544,000 living here and in 2010-11 they have been the main source of migrants. Migrants from China (380,000) and India (340,000) are now the biggest non-Anglo communities by a large margin. Vietnamese (204,000) are closing the gap on Italians (219,000) to be the next largest.
Net migration overall slumped to 215,500 in 2009-10, down from 300,000 a year earlier. The financial crisis cut the need for skilled workers and the closing of immigration loopholes, the rising dollar and violence against Indian students all cut student numbers.