Economic slump hits population
By Tim Colebatch
The Age (Melbourne), June 5, 2010
Australia's population boom is deflating fast.
Net long-term arrivals in Australia have slumped 25 per cent in recent months, with arrivals of permanent settlers down to a three-year low.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the economic slowdown and the Rudd government's progressive tightening of immigration rules have sharply reduced arrivals of settlers and temporary residents alike.
The net total of permanent and long-term arrivals in the 10 months
to April has shrunk from 300,180 a year ago to just 223,860 so far this financial year.
Net arrivals of permanent settlers fell from 66,510 to 45,840, the lowest tally in six years. While 119,590 settlers arrived, a record 73,750 Australians left, writing on the form that their departure was
The fall in settler and temporary arrivals is in line with government policy. As unemployment rose last year, it cut the skilled migration intake by 14 per cent, from 133,500 to 115,000.
More recently, amid growing concern at population pressures in the cities, Immigration Minister Chris Evans progressively shut the back doors by which foreign students in low-level courses could qualify for permanent residency.
The fall in new arrivals, however, has been overwhelmingly among New Zealanders (down 35 per cent) – who are free to come and go – and the British (down 29 per cent). Settler arrivals from Asia were virtually
unchanged, those from the Middle East fell, and those from the rest of the world rose.
But while long-term arrivals are falling, the bureau reports that the numbers of students and workers for short-term courses or work contracts is still rising. So far this financial year, 605,000 people
have arrived in Australia for stays of three to 12 months.
Unfortunately for the tourism operators, they are not here on holidays.
The number of tourists arriving here so far in 2010 is even lower than a year ago – whereas the number of Australians going on overseas holidays has shot up 27 per cent.
In the first four months of 2010 alone, Australians made just over 2 million trips out of the country – 1.1 million of them for holidays, and a further 464,000 to see relatives and friends.
They include 364,000 trips to New Zealand, 199,000 to Indonesia (up 53 per cent on a year ago), 183,000 to the United States and 149,000 to Thailand (both up 32 per cent).
By contrast, while the number of short-term visitors to Australia has risen 66,000 so far in 2010, they were all coming here for business, jobs, study or to see friends and relatives.