China tops migration queue to Australia

By Greg Ansley

The flow of Kiwis moving to Australia has diminished. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The flow of Kiwis moving to Australia has diminished. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The new reluctance of Kiwis to desert hearth and home has helped propel China to the top of Australia's migration queue.

For the first time, more Chinese have settled across the Tasman than Kiwis and Britons, traditionally the biggest sources of migrants.

Despite tensions that have marked recent relations between the two countries, Chinese migration in the four months to the end of October rose to a record 6350.

Over the same period 4740 Kiwis landed as permanent or long-term arrivals, part of a diminishing stream that saw the transtasman exodus slow by 47 per cent in the 12 months to the end of October.

The British retreat was smaller, but still a significant 27 per cent.

Unlike the Chinese, whose numbers have been supported by family reunion visas, British migration is dominated by skilled migrants.

Canberra slashed its 2009-10 skilled migration intake by more than 18,000.

New Zealand migration, which is not regulated by visa conditions, has traditionally been sensitive to economic conditions.

And Australia's slowdown, accompanied by rising unemployment, appears to have convinced Kiwis to stay put for the time being.

The new Australian figures follow similar trends reported by Statistics New Zealand.

In the year to the end of October an 18 per cent slump in the number of permanent and long-term departures was the biggest contributor to an increase of more than 14,000 in New Zealand's net migration compared with the October 2008 year.

The net flow across the Tasman slowed by almost one-third, to 21,200.

Statistics NZ said the annual net loss to Australia had been falling since the record highs of 35,400 last December and January.

But Australians and New Zealanders have been flocking to each other's country for a break.

Helped by a strong dollar, cheap flights and cash handouts from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's economic stimulus, more than 570,000 Australians headed overseas for a holiday in October.

New Zealand was at the top of their list, with transtasman flights soaring 51 per cent.

The same month, 176,500 Kiwis went abroad, with 2400 more trips to Australia than in October 2008.

- NZ Herald

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