The backdoor to Australia – again

After my post last week on the apparent Australian concern that somehow New Zealand was providing a back door entry to Australia, for migrants who could not get into Australia directly, a commenter included a link to the text of a fascinating National Library lecture (itself drawn from a journal article) by Victoria University researcher Paul Hamer.   That made it clear both how longstanding these concerns have been  – going back 100 years or so –  and how focused they are on Pacific Island immigration to New Zealand.    Some of it looks like out-and-out racial biases.  But these days it is a bit different.

In their report on New Zealand out today, the IMF described our immigration policy as “fully merit-based”.   In fact, while that is more or less, and mostly, true, it isn’t fully so.  Within the annual target (“planning range”) of around 45000 residence approvals, we have Pacific quotas, for Samoa and for a group of other fairly small Pacific countries.    People from those countries can get in, to a certain extent, even though they do not have the skills, qualifications or whatever to get in through the standard nationality-blind policy.  In the year to March 2017, just over 1600 people were granted residence under these quotas.  In time, presumably, most will become New Zealand citizens.  They, like other New Zealand citizens, would then be free to move to Australia if they chose.   Australia, I gather, has no such nationality-specific immigration quotas.

In the past Australia’s concerns apparently extended to people from the Cook Island and Niue.  They are New Zealand citizens as of right, and don’t have to move here to be able to move to Australia.

What do the data show about this?    We do have PLT data on the departures of New Zealand citizens to Australia, broken down by birth country.  In my post the other day I just looked at the aggregate of the non-NZ (and non-Australian) born.  But one can dig deeper, using data that cover each year back to 2002.

Taking the Cook Islands born people first (since they aren’t covered by our immigration policy), there were total PLT departures to Australia from New Zealand of 3776 such people in the 16 years for which we have data.   That isn’t perhaps large  by Australian population standards, but it is equivalent to quite a large chunk of the small Cooks-born population.  Presumably, some other Cooks-born people might have gone directly to Australia (if there are direct flights).   The Cooks-born population of New Zealand in the 2013 Census was just under 13000.      However, a lot of those Cooks-born people came back again.  Over the same 16 years, the net outflow to Australia of Cooks-born people was a relatively modest 1248.

What about NZ citizens born in other countries, who mostly gain entry only through our immigration policy?

Here are the top half dozen or so birth countries of NZ citizens who left (net) for Australia

Net outflow to Australia of NZ citizens born in these countries  (Total, March years 2002 to 2017)
UK -8878
Samoa -8523
South Africa -7930
India -7086
Philippines -3983
Fiji -3552
China -3197

The UK tops the list.     Then again, there are many more British-born people in New Zealand than there are people born in any other country  (about 256000 at the 2013 Census).

So here are the net outflows over the sixteen March years (2002 to 2017) to Australia of foreign-born New Zealand citizens, as a percentage of the 2013 NZ resident population of people born in that country.

net outflow to Aus by birthplace

If the Australian government really is concerned about those Pacific Island inflows, the Samoa figures might appear to give them some support.   Then again, the South African and Sri Lankan born outflows, as a share of the respective populations, are almost as large –  and presumably those people got into New Zealand by meeting our nationality-blind tests.    For some of those birthplaces, the proportions seem quite remarkably high.

As it happens, the Cook Islands numbers are quite a way down the list, and Tonga further still.  SNZ don’t publish the data at a sufficiently disaggregated level to know what the proportions look like for New Zealand citizens born in Niue, Tokelau or Kiribati.

I don’t have  any great or specific interest in this apparent concern of Australia’s –  and frankly the absolute numbers seem pretty small relative to the size of Australia’s population (and overall migration inflows).  But, the subject having come up again, I was interested in what light the published data could shed on the issue.

17 thoughts on “The backdoor to Australia – again

  1. How does NZ prove to Australia that NZ is not a “soft entry point” into Australia

    compare :- In tonight’s TVNZ1 was the case of a Hong Kong national entered NZ as a student, didn’t attend any lectures and gets apprehended importing $176 million Meth into NZ

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  2. appropos nothing

    I lived in Australia for more than 25 years. On the TV news every night the lead news was usually some crime. The new media always identified the culprits by their appearance, ie Mediterranean, middle eastern, asian, pacific island, (often samoan), maori, east african.

    Always. The police are looking for someone of such and such appearance

    As a kiwi living in the place it was cringeworthy the number of times the felons were immediately identified as being of maori apprearance. Too often. It is in your face all the time. Grinding away. Over time public opinions are swayed and become entrenched

    Be advised that the Maori and Pacific Island communities are disproportionately represented in the crime news in Australia.

    Sitting in Wellington reading following the local news media you would not know that – its not considered newsworthy here

    The felons in NZ attacking milk bars and dairies and bottle shops would be identified immediately by there appearance if they were in Australia

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    • In this case perception is everything; it’s what people, politicians respond to.
      New Zealand is perceived as a source of low lifes into Australia and, right or wrong, that’s probably all it comes down to. The Labour party there are running ads promoting their Aussies First (for jobs) policy (with some recent controversy) its easy to see the direction this is taking.
      More broadly you (or is it just me) get the feeling that nationalist type concerns are rising right around the globe. Most likely it’s the impending out of control climate change, resource depletion, overpopulation, immigration, religious conflict and associated terrorism at the root of the zeitgeist.

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      • It is certainly a real issue (Aus perceptions of NZers). INdeed, it would probably be surprising not to see more restrictions come over time, including perhaps the eventual aboliton of the ability of NZers to move to Aus without advance permission. That would be a real loss to some NZers, and probably even to NZ as a whole, but in a sense it is what comes when we’ve allowed ourselves to drift so far behind Aus incomes/productivity, so that it is no longer a common labour market among very similar countries (as was the case for 100 years or so to say 1970), but rather us as guest workers, mendicants etc. A sad reflection on our own largely-self-imposed failure.

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  3. My understanding is that Australia’s constitution already accepts NZ as one of the states of Australia. At the next election in September, we should put it to a referendum as to whether New Zealanders would want to be a state of Australia. Let’s just stick the finger to Julie Bishop and vote to become part of Australia.

    The only condition that prevents us joining Australia is that we drop the Treaty of Waitangi and adopt the Australian constitution.

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    • I don’t think that is a correct description of the Aus constitution (altho we are mentioned in it), despite the folk wisdom to the contrary.

      We would have to be invited in, (or plead to be allowed in). Almost 20 years ago, i entered a long-term bet that we’d become part of Australia by, from memory, 2040.

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      • “On the first day of January, 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia officially came into being and the six Australian colonies, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, became States of the newly created nation. Although New Zealand chose not to take any further part in the federation process after preliminary discussions, their representatives primary success was to ensure that New Zealand could, at any time she pleases, enter into the Commonwealth of Australia as a State without the need for approval from the other States. It is for this reason that New Zealand is included within section 6 of the Preamble to the Australian Constitution.”

        http://www.diskiller.net/nzstatehood/

        This study seems to indicate that New Zealand can decide to join Australia without a need of any approval by Australia. This is written into section 6 of the original Australian Constitution.

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    • This is very wrong. Let me address the second point first: if New Zealand ever joined Australia, it would not need to drop the Treaty of Waitangi. Some aspects of NZ law would require harmonisation with federal law, but the Treaty itself would remain.

      The Australian constitution does not consider NZ a state of Australia. Section 6 says this, and note the key part that I’ve surrounded with asterisks: “The States shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the northern territory of South Australia, ***as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth,*** and such colonies or territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called a State.”

      Since NZ has never been part of the Commonwealth, “the States” in the constitution does not refer to it. But the constitution was drafted at a point when NZ still had time to hold a referendum to join the Commonwealth as an original state. So it was necessary to mention NZ in Section 6 just in case that happened.

      Incidentally, this raises the matter that certain things, such as the number of senators, are specifically granted to original states. If a new state joined, be it NZ or elsewhere, there is no guarantee it would join with the same rights and privileges of the six original states.

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      • “The Commonwealth shall mean the Commonwealth of Australia as established under this Act.

        The States shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the northern territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such colonies or territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called a State.”

        http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/preamble

        Andre, New Zealand is mentioned as a state under the Australian Constitution so your comment is clearly wrong.

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      • Note the “such of”. We did not become part of the Commonwealth of Australia then, are not part of it now, and have no automatic right to become part of it in the future.

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      • “On the first day of January, 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia officially came into being and the six Australian colonies, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, became States of the newly created nation. Although New Zealand chose not to take any further part in the federation process after preliminary discussions, their representatives primary success was to ensure that New Zealand could, at any time she pleases, enter into the Commonwealth of Australia as a State without the need for approval from the other States. It is for this reason that New Zealand is included within section 6 of the Preamble to the Australian Constitution.”

        http://www.diskiller.net/nzstatehood/

        This study suggests that NZ does not need Australia’s approval to join. It is a birthright under the original Australian constitution.

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      • “It should also be noted that unlike the six other colonies that joined the federation in 1901, New Zealand did not hold a referendum on the question before deciding against membership. The political leaders of New Zealand chose to ignore this fundamental democratic principle and took the decision themselves. The door, nevertheless, continues to remain open for it to join the federation whenever it likes, without the prior agreement of the six Australian States. This is quite an extraordinary facility which has no precedent anywhere else in the world. It places New Zealand in an extremely comfortable position. Sir John Hall was evidently a very shrewd negotiator.”

        https://griffithreview.com/articles/republic-australia-new-zealand/

        This is another study that indicates that New Zealand is in a unique position to demand its rights as a state of Australia. Jerry Brownlee should not be pussy footing around in demanding New Zealanders equal rights in Australia. It is our birthright as New Zealand is a state of Australia. There is no Australian right of refusal. That right to not join is solely the discretion of New Zealanders.

        Jerry Brownlee should just have stuck his finger up at Julie Bishop.

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