Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe says the strong overseas connections that have resulted from people migrating to live in Australia are an economic asset for the country.
Addressing a parliamentary hearing on Friday, the RBA boss said immigration had made Australian society more dynamic and more diverse.
‘In the most recent census, nearly 50 per cent of us were either born overseas or have one parent who was born overseas, so half the population have some direct connection to families and businesses living in other countries and often they speak another language,’ Dr Lowe told the hearing in Canberra.
‘I see that as one of Australia’s huge assets – those overseas connections that we have.’
Australia’s rate of population growth has been a subject of discussion since the population passed 25 million earlier this month – decades earlier than forecast.
Dr Lowe said he did not advocate for strong or weak population growth but he worked to understand its effects because it is a ‘first-order variable’ that has affected how the Australian economy performs.
Dr Lowe said the 1.5 per cent growth in the population each year had helped Australia’s economy grow at a faster rate than many other developed nations.
He said most migrants to Australia have added to Australia’s human capital because they have jobs or stay on after studying.
New immigrants, with a median age of 20 to 25 years compared to an Australian median age of 37, were also keeping the population younger overall, he said.