More Britons look for a better life Down Under
By Ben Leapman, Home Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 03/06/2007
They've got the Ashes, a beach lifestyle, and prawns sizzling on the barbie. We've got crime, high house prices and large school classes.
And that, according to Australia, is why the number of Britons emigrating Down Under has almost tripled in four years. Figures released by the Australian government show that 23,290 “settlers” made the move in 2005/06, the biggest annual total since the 1980s and more than 2 times the 8,749 who went in 2001/02.
Attempting to explain the trend, a senior Australian politician said that crime levels, the terrorist threat and the housing market were all factors.
Steve Bracks, premier of the state of Victoria, which is centred on Melbourne, said that even sporting disasters such as this year's Ashes cricket series, in which England lost 5-0, can encourage Britons to emigrate.
He said: “It is obviously of great interest to people in the UK that a small nation can do so well in sport. They see that we have so many opportunities for young people to develop, and they want to have opportunities for their families.”
Most migrants and their families taking advantage of visa programmes aimed at English speakers aged under 45 who are skilled in professions where there are shortages.
Visiting London to launch a new recruitment drive aimed at British doctors and nurses, Mr Bracks said: “We are one of the safest places in the world. Melbourne has one of the lowest crime rates for an international city of its type. That comes into quality of life: good education, good health systems, safe communities and good career prospects.” And with Australian property prices less than half the level in Britain, Mr Bracks pointed out: “You can trade up.”
As well as healthcare professionals, Victoria is bidding to poach British teachers, IT specialists, engineers and even builders and hairdressers.
Bob Viner, a self-employed carpenter, moved to Australia with his family in 2005. While living in Basingstoke, Hampshire, he was commuting up to two hours each way to jobs in London. Working six days a week, he was spending little time with his wife Jane, 42, and their four children.
Speaking from his new home in Highton, Victoria, Mr Viner, 37, said: “Since I've been here, I've never worked on a Saturday, and I get home at quarter past four every day. The kids fitted straight in at school, and they love all the sport.”
Having traded up from a three-bedroom terraced house to a five-bedroom property 20 minutes from the beach, he has now bought a quarter-acre of land for 70,000 and is building a luxury home.
A record 198,000 UK citizens moved overseas in 2005, the most recent figure available. The outflow was more than matched by 565,000 immigrants who moved to Britain in the same period, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, widely seen as an underestimate.
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