Im­mi­grants fill gap as Aussies depart

Townsville Bulletin - - inside today -

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.

Amanda Van­stone

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