More and more Brits choosing Australia

More immigrants arrived to settle in Australia in 2005 than in any year since the 1980s. The British led the way, with 21,780 of them leaving last year to settle in Australia. The number of British settlers arriving has more than doubled in just three years, with a 30 per cent rise last year alone.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 128,740 settlers arrived at our airports in 2005, 10 per cent more than in 2004 and the third year in a row of double-digit growth in arrivals.

The British are now almost the only Europeans immigrating to Australia. In the postwar era, they led a European exodus that included up to 2 million people from other countries: 381,753 Italians, 256,302 Germans, 207,879 Greeks, 159,103 Yugoslavians, 145,663 Dutch and 77,815 Maltese. Now, the British are immigrating almost alone. Last year, they made up three in every four European migrants, who in turn made up just a quarter of Australia's new settlers.

Australia also became home to 18,510 settlers from New Zealand, the highest in four years, 10,250 from China and a record 9920 from India, now the fourth-largest source of migrants to Australia, but the largest into Victoria.

Those numbers, however, understate the true inflow. Under a change to immigration laws, foreign students at Australian universities can now settle here if they can organise a job after graduating.

Figures for calendar 2005 are not yet available, but in the 12 months to June, 43,895 people living here were granted permanent residence. They included about 7500 British citizens and roughly 5000 Chinese, 4000 Indians and several thousand Indonesians, Koreans and Malaysians.

Figures also show that:

  • A record 64,380 Australians left the country and wrote that they would not be back, while another 94,060 left for more than a year away. But their numbers were far outweighed by those arriving.
  • The number of foreign visitors rose just 5 per cent last year, to 5.5 million, as the strong currency helped deter tourists.
  • By contrast, the number of Australians taking overseas trips jumped to 4.75 million, up 40 per cent in two years, as Australians used the strong currency to see the world.
  • Victoria's number of foreign tourists went backwards last year. Just 931,700 departing tourists said they had spent most time in the state, 4 per cent fewer than in 2004.

Settlers to Australia over the years

1950s Britain/Ireland, Italy, Germany, Netherlands

1960s Britain/Ireland, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia

1970s Britain/Ireland, New Zealand, Yugoslavia, Lebanon

1980s Britain/Ireland, New Zealand, Vietnam, Philippines

1990s New Zealand, Britain/Ireland, Hong Kong, China

2000s New Zealand, Britain/Ireland, China, India