28 December 2006

Brits still flocking down under

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More than 131,000 people chose to migrate to Australia in the last year with the British still the largest single group of settlers.

The annual figures released by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs confirm Australia's position as one of the top three destinations for migrants and are 8,000 up on 2004-2005, with the Government hoping to exceed that total next year by another 10,000, with the bulk of new arrivals coming via the skilled migration route.

The United Kingdom provided nearly one in five of every new arrival to Australia at 23,290, up by almost 5000 on last year, and they were closely followed by New Zealanders (19.033) and Indians made up the third largest consituent group (11,286)

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the figures proved the Government's immigration policies were helping to solve Australia's acute skills shortages.

"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,’ Senator Vanstone said.

"The great thing about our migration programme is that new arrivals have settled all over the country, in cities and in regional areas, meaning the wealth of their knowledge and experience is being spread throughout the community.

"Our migration target for 2006-2007 is about 140,000, including 97,500 in the skill stream and that number does not include the 13,000 refugee and humanitarian entrants who will begin new lives in Australia through our humanitarian programme."

Regionally the state of New South Wales was still the destination of choice for the majority of migrants, with the number of arrivals, 44,461, just slightly below the previous year. Victoria was the second most popular state with 32,297, an increase of nearly 2,000 and a similar increase was seen in Western Australia.

South Australia saw the largest increase in immigration percentage wise, with an increase of 2735 or 43 per cent.

The flow of people has not been one way, with a total of 67,853 people also leaving Australia permanently during 2005-06, up from 62,606 the previous year and 59,078 in 2003-04, Immigration Department figures show.

About half of those departing were Australian-born. Of foreign-born residents leaving Australia, the majority had lived here more than five years.

New Arrivals by state:

Australia needs skilled workers: anyone interested in migrating to Australia should complete an online assessment to see if they qualify for skilled migration to Australia.

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