Immigrants fill gap as Aussies depart
MORE people are leaving Australia permanently for opportunities overseas, despite a surge in the number migrating down under.
A total of 67,853 people left Australia permanently during 2005-06, up from 62,606 the previous year and 59,078in 2003-04, Immigration Department figures show.
About half of those departing were Australianborn. Of foreign-born residents leaving Australia, the majority had lived here more than five years.
Professionals, associate professionals and managers accounted for 44 per cent of permanent departures from Australia, with clerical and service staff accounting for a further 14 per cent.
Almost a third of those leaving permanently — 3 1 . 7 p e r cent — were classed as not being in the labour force, excluding the 0.6 per cent that were unemployed.
Those leaving Australia said they intended to settle in New Zealand (13,915), Britain (12,040), the US (6987), Hong Kong (5379), China (3952) and Singapore (3600).
The figures contrast with arrivals in the same period, which increased to 131,593 in the year to June, up more than 8000 on the previous year.
Almost one in five migrants was from Britain, which accounted for 23,290 new arrivals to Australia during the year.
Other leading source countries were New Zealand (19,033), India (11,286), China (10,581), the Philippines (4871), South Africa (3953) and Sudan (3783).
The statistics are contained in the latest immigration update released by the department, which Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone yesterday used to highlight Australia’s popularity as a migration destination.
Senator Vanstone said increased migration was a good thing.
‘‘That’s 8000 extra people who chose to make Australia their home, people who not only brought with them aspirations for a wonderful new life but also brought the experience and skills to help build Australia’s future,’’ she said.
Although many new settlers arrived and stayed in Sydney, more were choosing to live in regional areas thanks to improved support networks, she said.
Most entered Australia through the family and skills streams of the migration program.
Lobby group Australian Business Limited said it was not surprised by both increased immigration and migration, as the global labour market was becoming more competitive.
‘‘It isn’t a brain drain,’’ spokesman Paul Ritchie said. ‘‘It is an international market for labour. People will take advantage of opportunities they can’t get in Australia, and people will come to Australia for opportunities they can’t get elsewhere.’’
Australians appeared to be feeling more comfortable nowadays about spending time living and working overseas than they did a generation ago, Mr Ritchie said.