A large number of people in Australia support the idea of a Donald Trump-style ban on people arriving in the country from certain other nations, mostly Muslim, two new polls have found.
Some 41% support a visa ban on people from Muslim countries entering Australia according to an Essential poll, while a Newspoll survey found 44% think there should be similar measures to Trump’s executive order which banned people from seven countries.
The United States ban, which is currently suspended while legal hearings take place, aimed to prevent people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalis, the Sudan, Syria and Yemen travelling to the country for 90 days.
In the Essential survey 46% opposed a similar ban in Australia and 14% didn’t know and in the Newspoll 45% were against a ban and 11% were uncommitted.
But it is not a sudden new trend. The results of the two polls are broadly in line with an Essential poll from last September that found 49% of Australians backed a ban on Muslim migration, while 40% opposed the idea.
There is no immediate likelihood of such a ban being introduced in Australia but there has been an increasing tightening of checks on people from some countries. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stated that Australia has a non-discriminatory immigration policy but he has refused to denounce the Trump travel ban. He said that it is a matter for the US and not his job to comment.
The One Nation political party in Australia has called for a ban on Muslim immigration. But there does not seem to be a big move in favour of such an outcome. Last September a Mapping Social Cohesion report that tracks attitudes on issues including immigration, multiculturalism, discrimination and politics, suggested those born abroad may be experiencing more negativity.
The report also found that reports of discrimination have risen sharply to the highest level recorded since the Scanlon Foundation began the study nine years ago and one in five non-Anglo Australians born abroad reported discrimination in 2016 and a third felt they were being denied jobs or promotion because of their background.
However, the study challenged the view that a negative attitudes toward Muslims is increasing. It found that there has been no significant shift in negative opinion towards Muslims which remains in the range of 22% to 25%.
Support for multiculturalism has also remained high with 83% saying that multiculturalism has been good for Australia. ‘There is a positive view of multiculturalism. Most people see multiculturalism as a two-way process of change, involving adaptation from Australian born and migrants,’ said report author, Professor Andrew Markus of Monash University.
Although the study did not ask specifically about Muslim immigration it did look at sentiment and a quarter of those surveyed said they had negative feelings towards Muslims, while 14.1% had ‘strong’ negative feelings, up from 11.3%. Just over 30% had positive or strongly positive feelings and about 40% were indifferent.