Immigrants set record with more to come
The Sydney Morning Herald
July 1, 2007
AS Australia celebrates the population meter ticking over to 21 million, a record immigration figure for a financial year is expected to escalate the population boom.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said the projected target of up to 148,000 new immigrants for 2006-07 would be met once the figures were tallied.
It represents one of the greatest immigration influxes in decades. Aided by a rising number of births, Australia is experiencing a rise in population numbers not seen since the two most significant boom periods, after World War II and in the 1980s.
The secretary of the Department of Immigration, Andrew Metcalfe, had already hailed the previous year's growth as a record.
In the department's annual report, he commended the outcome for 2005-06 of 143,000 new migrants as “the largest migration program for several decades”.
This year's intake and projections for coming years suggest the increase will continue. The Government is aiming to accept 152,800 new migrants in 2007-08, a far cry from the low immigration stance it adopted on coming to power in 1996.
After huge immigration numbers during Bob Hawke's years as prime minister in the 1980s, his successor Paul Keating slashed immigration in his first year as prime minister.
The rapid increase in immigration has been fuelled by a growing skills shortage. The Government has altered the mix of the immigration program to focus on attracting more skilled migrants.
Two-thirds of those expected to settle permanently this year and next will fall under the skilled migration category.