Welcome to Australiasia – may the force be with you!

It’s Star Wars time, thankfully not an argument with Tango top and the rocket man of North Korea but the latest instalment of space opera from Mr Skywalker and company. In the news today, I read that there’s a bit of bickering going on amongst fans with an online petition calling for Disney to "re-make Episode VIII properly". My goodness, really? Really?!

Anyhow this got me thinking about all things Star Wars and a funny thing that happened in the Australian Census a few years back.

You’d have had to have your heads buried deep in the sand to have missed the commotion after more than 70,000 residents of Australia declared themselves to be Jedi Knights in the 2001 Census, if of course you are old enough to remember that far back. A number of that count suffered losses in 2006, perhaps the result of a star war in a distant galaxy, far, far away (one that I quite obviously missed), and then rose again in numbers to about 65,000 in 2011. Seems there’s a population boom here, there and everywhere these days.

Last year, after 15 years of this excellent and entertaining data collection and obviously fed up with being undermined by the sabre brigade giving them the collective finger, the Empire strikes back with the powers that be deciding that the Jedi’s and their new allies the ‘Pastfarians’ would be counted as ‘not defined’ and placed in the ‘No religion’ numbers.

For those of you not in tune with the teachings of George Lucas, the protagonists are the Jedi Order who, “Mostly consists of polymaths: teachers, philosophers, scientists, engineers, physicians, diplomats and warriors, who value knowledge and wisdom above nationality.” “By serving others, the Jedi give of themselves through acts of charity, citizenship, and volunteerism.” Ideal neighbours one would have thought, crikey they even sound like ultimate definition of my ideal tenant!

Strewth that’s got me thinking… what exactly is an Aussie? The glamourous Lara Bingle asked us “So where the bloody hell are ya?” I guess we’ve worked that out now as most of us are indeed here, on or near a beach one hopes, nonetheless a more pertinent question is “where the hell do we all come from?”

For those that aren’t from another time in space the answer is almost everywhere, more accurately from nearly 200 different countries, indeed 26% of us including my good self were born overseas.

In just the past five years 1.3 million new migrants have arrived, with China (191,000 or 8.3%) and India (163,000 or 7.4%) making up the largest numbers of most recent arrivals, with the Philippines following closely behind.

Interestingly I should add it also shows that we have a higher proportion of overseas-born people (26%) than the United States (14%), Canada (22%) and New Zealand (23%). What about the United Kingdom, you say? Not even close (13%).

The UK is still the most common birthplace of migrants at 15% but that share is half of the number in 1966. Of course it would have been, considering that in 1966 there were a net total of 95,931 migrants from overseas (about half of the total 2015-16 numbers) and till that point let’s not forget about how the ‘white Australia policy’ restricted many would be migrant’s movements.

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What’s for sure is that Aussies born of Australian parents will soon be a minority. The good oil in the data shows that we’ve nearly reached a “tipping point” in 2016 where only slightly more than half its residents had two Australian-born parents. The long-term low of 50.7% is a step down from 54% in 2011 and 57% in 2006. Fair dinkum! Simply there are now more Australians of Chinese and Indian birth than of English birth.

While we are on the subject of tipping points, it’s also worth pointing out that Melbourne will in the not too distant future exceed Sydney as the country’s most populous city with approximately 200 more people migrating there every week than in Sydney. Surprised, don’t be, believe it or not Melbourne has been bigger before but not for over one hundred years but what with over 1,000 new people arriving to Australia everyday it’s not hard to envisage.

Perhaps surprisingly, Darwin, is the city which has grown the most in the last five years; its population is up 14 %. It is followed by Melbourne and Perth on 12 % growth, then Sydney and Brisbane on 10%, Adelaide on 5.8%, and Hobart on 5.1%.

Some of the world’s most successful nations are built on migrants. Looking from a slightly different perspective one would imagine that other countries in their early years of foundation might have found themselves in a similar situation. I guess the new movement though has rather got people talking as for the first time since colonisation, most of the overseas-born came from Asia rather than Europe.

Makes sense now that the gates are again open for the largest population in the world. Although this time the diaspora is not due to wars and starvation in mainland China but conversely to wealth and prosperity. One hopes that they have forgiven the western world for its ‘Mai Zhu Zai’ or more simply the exploitation of their plentiful, cheap and hardworking manpower.

In pattern with this is the fact that English whilst being the countries most favoured language is on the decrease with 72.7% of residents reporting they spoke only English at home, down from 76.8% in 2011.

Of course, that’s easy to account for as most Jedi Knights now communicate by the Force rather than speak at home, and most by all accounts may have well moved to Darwin 😉.