Immigration numbers plunge by almost half in two years

Melbourne: Australia is not wooing foreigners as latest official data says that the country's net migration has plunged by almost half in the last two years. Australia's Bureau of statistics report disclosed that net migration was just 171,000 in 2010, down sharply from 316,000 in 2008 and the lowest since the bureau changed its measuring system in late 2006, according to media reports.

The report said that country's population growth fell to 325,500 in 2010, down from 467,300 in 2008. However, in the six months to December, net migration slumped 37 per cent year on year, from 121,500 to 77,000. In the state of Victoria, net migration fell even more sharply. Since 2003, Indians had been the main source of permanent settlers in Victoria. But in 2009-10, their numbers slumped 14 per cent, and China became the state's main source of settlers. In 2010, migration of Indians to Victoria slumped 37 per cent, from 76,000 to 48,000, partly reflecting the impact of Indian media coverage of violence against Indian students.

Chinese (8151) and Indians (7739) easily outnumbered settlers from Britain (4282) and New Zealand (3696) in Victoria. They were followed by Sri Lankans (2484), Filipinos (2112), Malaysians (1638), South Africans (1477) and Vietnamese (1347). Other bureau figures show the slump in migration has continued in 2011. The government planned for an unchanged 168,700 family and skilled migrants in 2010-11, and 13,750 humanitarian refugees, but arrivals' data shows a far different trend.

The report said the figures suggest that the anti-immigration rhetoric of the ALP and the Coalition in the 2010 election campaign has influenced either the way immigration applicants are being assessed, or overseas interest in coming in the first place, or both. A spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the sharp decline in net overseas migration reflected immigration reforms that had tackled the potential abuse of student visas and shifted the focus to high-value occupations.

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