The Asianisation of Australia: volume 2, part 1, section 1

Country of Birth and Ethnicity

In seeking the ethnicity of immigrants into Australia it is wise to use only those immigration statistics which are based upon "country of birth", as "country of citizenship" figures are unreliable (How many Timorese come here with Portuguese citizenship? How many Indians from Britain, and Chinese from Hong Kong, come here with British citizenship?). Immigration statistics based upon "country of last residence" are also unreliable (How many Asian nationals have resided in European countries prior to migrating to Australia?).

Refer to the Tables below for a comparison of how different categories of statistics can radically change statistics regarding Asian immigration.



                                               U.K. and

                               Asia      %     Europe      %     Other      %      Total    %

Settlers by

country of birth             38 448   44.0     25 523   29.2    23 457   26.8     87 428   100

Settlers by

country of citizenship       26 558   30.4     32 950   37.7    27 920   31.9     87 428   100

Settlers by

country of last residence    36 787   42.1     24 929   28.5    25 712   29.4     87 428   100

Note regarding "Settlers by country of citizenship": The figures for Asia and Europe may be slightly understated (and the figure for "Other" may be slightly overstated), as the table these figures are taken from was not arranged by region, so that some of the 697 immigrants listed under "Other" in that table may properly belong to Asia and Europe. Also, it should be noted that there were 1913 immigrants listed as "Stateless", with another 3 immigrants listed as "Not Stated"



                                1970/71     1979/80     1989/90     1994/95

Settlers, by

country of birth                    287       1 290       3 069       3 708

Settlers, by

country of citizenship              240         748         959       2 831

Settlers by

country of last residence           179         867       1 005       1 604

Note: These figures are drawn from the statistics marked "China" in the relevant categories (i.e. these statistics do not include all "ethnic Chinese").

Unfortunately (due to deliberate policy), no immigration statistics are kept by race or ethnicity, and therefore "country of birth" statistics are considered to be the best available primary measure of ethnicity.

Of course, there will be those Asians born in Europe (who will inadvertently be counted as European ethnics) as well as those Europeans born in Asia (who will inadvertently be counted as Asian ethnics); however, it is believed that the numbers of such cases involved in current migration intakes are quite low, and thus not to be of any high importance (although there will certainly be more European-born non- Whites migrating from Europe in the 1990s than in previous decades; not to mention, for instance, the Asiatics from the South and East of the old-USSR). It should also be noted that in the 1940s to 1960s large numbers of migrants from Asia were Europeans, such as the White Russians from China and the Dutch from Indonesia, but that such migration has since dramatically declined.(3*)

Ian Macphee, a former Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, noted in 1982 that

The Asianisation of Australia:
Statistics (Immigration, Ethnicity, and Trade) (Volume 2)

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