Australians confused over immigration in run up to general election, polls suggest

by Ray Clancy on June 9, 2016

in Australia Immigration

Immigration is becoming a major issue ahead of the general election in Australia in July with views being expressed that the country should be tougher on who it allows to enter the country.

There has always been a divide between those who welcome highly skilled workers and those who believe they should not take the jobs of people already living in the country and now there is also a divide between those who say refugees should be welcomed and those who support controls.

A recent survey from international polling group GlobeScan found that 71% of Australians are in favour of helping migrants that are trying to escape war or persecution. And four out of every five people polled agreed that asylum applicants take shelter in stable countries.

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According to the poll, one out of every 10 Australian citizen asserted that they would welcome an immigrant in their homes and according to figures provided by humanitarian organizations, Australia is the fifth country in the world that welcomes refugees, preceded by China, Germany, Great Britain and Canada.

But another poll suggests that Australians have turned against high migrant intakes. The poll by Essential Research found that 59% believe that immigration levels over the last decade have been too high. Just 28% said that Australia should increase its refugee intake.

The issue has become a hot political potato in the run up to the election. Australia accepts 13,750 humanitarian arrivals a year, but will take an extra 12,000 refugees from the Syrian war.

The current Turnbull Government wants the refugee intake to reach 18,750 by 2018/2019, while Labour plans for 27,000 within a decade and the Greens’ policy calls for an increase to 50,000.

Bob Birrell, president of the Australian Population ¨Research Institute, has said that there was widespread disillusionment with the scale of migration. He pointed out that this negative attitude is much higher than other survey results in the past few years have indicated.

Yet, the poll also shows that 63% of Australians agreed migrants had made a positive contribution to the nation. But when asked if multiculturalism had failed and caused social division and religious extremism, some 46% agreed.

It found that 57% are opposed to accepting more refugees due to the current crisis in Europe caused by the war in Syria and the nation is split over whether accepting refugees being something that wealthy nations should do with 38% thinking it is and 48% that it is not.

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