The scale of our migrant flows for the last three years are quite out of the ordinary.
Our net flows are usually the two large ones, Australia and Asia, and then the rest.
Australia: a net outflow of 20,000, sometimes a peaking outflow of 40,000, but currently a peaking Inflow of 6,000;
Asia: a net inflow of 20,000, sometimes dropping to 10,000 and now, as in 2002, peaking at 37,000 net inflow;
The Rest: a steady net inflow since 2001 from Europe, Americas and Others of 20,000 per year. Since 2015 this has been lifting to 36,000 per year.
Consequently our total net inflow has lifted from zero in 2012, to over 70,000 a year today. This is a rate we are finding very difficult to accommodate – literally.
The two large sources peaked about 12 months ago and between them have reduced the net inflow from Australia and Asia by 5,000 a year in the last 12 months. However the ‘Rest’ group has lifted with an extra 3,000 from Europe and a major lift from South Africa. In 2013 the South African number was under 1,000 and by 2016, was 4,300 as shown in the graph.
Prospects to 2020
The two large sources have turned the corner and seem to be following the track of their usual cycles on the way down. The extra 3,000 from Europe could well evaporate if Macron, Merkel and May can pull together some unity on their side of the Atlantic. There is uncertainty in South Africa, but they may return to a more-normal flow of 2,000 a year into New Zealand.
With these tracks, we could see a total net inflow of under 40,000 by the first half of 2019, and tracking into a more manageable 15-20,000 net inflow of people in 2020.