Close to one million migrants from a single country are living in Australia – but it’s not a country some politicians would have you focus on.
If you believed recent comments that people from “Asia with PHDs” are coming to steal Australian jobs, you’d probably very surprised to discover the latest data actually reveals most migrants living in Australia were actually born in England.
The data, released on Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed that of the 7 million migrants living in Australia last year, 992,000 were born in England – 4 per cent of the total Australian population.
The next closest country was China with 651,000 migrants living in Australia, or comprising 2.6 per cent of the population.
CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), Mohammad Al-Khafaji, told SBS News the data was not surprising “given the history of Australian immigration policies over the decades strongly preferences migration from the UK”.
“What is interesting is that these figures run counter to the narrative of far-right anti-immigration groups and commentators who are highly critical of immigration from Asia and the Middle East,” he said.
“In fact, Middle Eastern nations don’t even figure in the top 10 countries of origin.”
While the British are still heavily represented in Australia, the number of English migrants in Australia has dropped from a peak of more than one million people, ABS Assistant Director of Migration Statistics Neil Scott said in a statement.
“Australia’s multicultural society is made up of migrants born in every country around the world,” he said.
“Although almost 18 million Australians were born here, our society is continuing to become more culturally diverse over time.”
Twenty-nine per cent of the Australian population in 2018 were born abroad.
In the same year, up until the 30 June, 526,000 people arrived to live in Australia – 237,000 more than left to live overseas.
Mr Al-Khafaji reiterated that all migrants, regardless of origin, “helped build Australia and continue to contribute great value to our society”.
But the budget also provided further details on the government’s migration changes.
The Coalition previously announced it will reduce Australia’s annual migration intake from 190,000 to 160,000 places for four years from 2019-20.
According to the budget breakdown, there will be 108,682 places in the skilled stream and 47,732 places in the family stream, including a combined 3,586 places for child and special eligibility streams.
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