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On The Move – On the Road with Mike and Mal!

We are pleased to launch our On the Move blog series, where we’ll bring you posts focussing on the intersection between migration and economics. These posts have been prepared by our Economic Analysis Unit.

Travelling from A to B is the easiest it’s ever been – this post explores how migration to Australia has evolved and expanded over time, where migrants are settling and where they’re from, and how they’re living the life in Australia.

On the Road with Mike and Mal!

Back in the seventies when international air fares were well beyond the reach of most Australians, travel shows were very different than the today’s big budget productions.

We didn’t have a Jason and Jules or a Catriona and Kelly beaming to camera, encouraging us to ‘getaway’ to exotic overseas locales. In their place we had two brothers, Mike and Mal Leyland, who ‘travelled all over the countryside’ in their trusty Landrover to tell us more about our big brown land.

This home-grown approach made good sense at the time. Average Aussies balking at the thought of spending more than a month’s salary on a return airfare to London could fill their fuel tank for less than ten bucks and follow Mike and Mal’s lead by heading off to such iconic sites as Ayer’s Rock, the Big Banana and the Big Pineapple!

A lot has changed since then. Ayer’s Rock is now Uluru and oversize fibreglass replicas lost their appeal long ago. What’s more, acronyms have taken over our travel. Roadmaps have been rendered obsolete by GPS and Landrovers have been replaced by SUVs!

So if Mal were to embark on an Australia-wide journey today he would see a very different society.

He would encounter many more migrants …

At the time of the 1976 Census there were just 2.7 million migrants living in Australia. Today that figure is just over 6 million, with more than a million of these people arriving after 2006. Approximately three-quarters of these recent migrants have settled in the eastern states of New South Wales (28 per cent), Victoria (27 per cent) and Queensland (19 per cent). Given its smaller population Western Australia has attracted a reasonable share of 15 per cent, well ahead of South Australia (7 per cent), ACT (2 per cent), Northern Territory (1 per cent), and Tasmania (1 per cent).

… Who prefer the city life

Like the rest of Australia, the vast majority of these new migrants prefer the convenience of city life. In this respect, Sydney and Melbourne are the cities of choice, each attracting about a quarter of these new arrivals. They are followed by Perth and Brisbane with a 13 per cent and 12 per cent share respectively.

He’d also come across a larger and more diverse bunch of overseas visitors …

In 2011–12, more than 3.7 million overseas visitors came to Australia – that’s not too far short of the 5.5 million we received throughout the whole of the 1970s. These recent numbers have been driven by strong growth in arrivals from China (which is now ranked number 2) and India (now ranked 8). Some things haven’t changed much in the past forty years however. New South Wales is still the premier state attracting 40 per cent of visitors, followed by Queensland (22 per cent) and Victoria (22 per cent).
… As well as many more young people studying …

Even though the Colombo Plan was in full swing there were only had a handful of international students on our campuses in the 1970s. By the end of June 2012, this handful has turned into more than 300 000, with New South Wales leading the way with 104 000 students, followed by Victoria (87 000 students) and Queensland ( 45 000 students).

And working here

Our Working Holiday Maker Program didn’t start till 1975, when the UK and Canada signed up to the scheme. Today we have 19 countries participating in the Program plus an additional nine countries taking part in the Work and Holiday Program. Most of these backpackers can be found working and holidaying in New South Wales.

Our Temporary Business Long Stay Visa (better known as the 457 visa), introduced in 1996, is another recent addition. By the middle of 2012 there were over 160 000 of these visa holders in Australia , 23 per cent up on the figure of a year earlier and equivalent to about one-sixtieth of our total workforce. Predictably New South Wales held the greatest share with 51 000 visa holders, followed by resource-rich Western Australia with 33 000 and Victoria with 32 000 visa holders.


Post 2006

Arrivals 2011–12

Stock at 30 June 2012






s/c 457s


 288 000

1 511 000

 104 000

 40 000

 51 000


 270 000

 814 000

 87 000

 23 000

 33 000


 196 000

 819 000

 45 000

 29 000

 32 000


 156 000

 426 000

 23 000

 23 000

 28 000


 66 000

 101 000

 19 000

 3 000

 5 000


 17 000

 36 000

 6 000

 1 000

 2 000


 9 000

 27 000

 3 000


 2 000


 10 000

 33 000

 1 000

 3 000

 1 000


1 012 000

3 767 000

 307 000

 137 000

 162 000

1. Includes not stated and other territories.

So what are you waiting for! Give that well-worn passport the flick, grab a copy of Migration to Australia’s states and territories and experience Aussie outdoor life firsthand. You may not get quite as far as Uluru, but thanks to the vision of Mike and Mal you may get to the Hunter Region of New South Wales and experience the next best thing.

 See: Migration to Australia’s states and territories

Comments (2)


I would like to know if Digital Media / Social Media Analyst / SEO / SEM jobs falls under the skills shortage list in Australia. I see that there are a lot of jobs in this domain in Australia and I have experience too.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection uses two lists that allow potential applicants to nominate skilled occupations which are acceptable for permanent and temporary skilled migration to Australia: the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL). The lists, and information on which visas they are relevant to, can be found at www.immi.gov.au/Work/Pages/skilled-occupations-lists/skilled-occupations....

If the occupations you mention are not specified within the lists, there may be other, more generic occupational titles that fit your skills and experience.