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October 2015

New study reveals Aussie divided on immigration issues

Published: Tuesday 13 October 2015

A new study carried out regarding Australian attitudes towards immigration reveal that Aussies from different political perspectives have hugely polarised views of how the country’s migration programme should work.

While a strong majority of Australians favour immigration levels as high as, or higher than they are at present – by 69 per cent to 27 per cent – this is the only area where there is broad agreement.

“Left wing voters are ‘humanitarian’ and see immigration almost entirely in terms of refugee policy,” explained Graham Young, the Executive Director of the Australian Institute for Progress, which carried out the study. “They tend to ignore the hundreds of thousands of non-refugee immigrants settled here each year.”

Young continued: “Right wing voters tend to be ‘utilitarian’ and see immigration almost entirely in terms of the benefits of increased size and economic capacity that skilled and targeted immigration can bring.”

The study, which is based on an online qualitative survey of 1,349 Australians, also revealed the following:

  • Liberal Party (40 per cent) and non-Greens minor party voters (43 per cent) are most likely to want a decrease from current levels of immigration, but are still, on balance, in favour of current or higher levels of immigration;
  • Greens and Labour voters who favoured increased migration did so due to a perceived need to take more refugees;
  • Other reasons given for increasing the migration intake included skills, economic activity, the benefits of a larger community for economic and defence purposes, and greater diversity;
  • Opponents of continued increases in immigration cited environmental issues, social security costs, housing and infrastructure, nationalism and abuse of 457 visas as key opinion drivers; and
  • The issue most likely to be mentioned as being a problem for those opposed to increasing immigration was a perceived failure of immigrants to assimilate.