Majority of Australians recognise the benefits of immigration, annual poll shows

by Ray Clancy on December 17, 2018

in Australia Immigration

Australians continue to recognise the benefits of immigration despite concerns about population growth and they accept that people from other nations makes Australia a stronger nation.

Some 85% consider immigrants and their diverse cultural and views a benefit to Australian society, according to the 2018 Scanlon Foundation’s mapping social cohesions survey.

Australia Department of Immigration

By TK Kurikawa/Shutterstock.com

However, there has been an increase in the number of Australians concerned about the level of immigration with 43% saying they are worried, a rise of 6% since the 2017 annual report.

But 52% still agree that the current level of immigration is either about right or too low while 43% believe that the migrant intake level is too high, up from 37% last year.

‘There are relatively low levels of concern about immigration from many different countries, about whether immigration is good for this country, creates jobs, gives us fresh ideas. All of those indicators remain, by large percentages, very positive,’ said professor Andrew Markus, from Monash University in Melbourne.

He pointed out that there is, however, a perceived lack of Government planning, about perceived overcrowding and house prices. For example 54% said they had concerns about the impact of immigration on overcrowding in cities, 49% about the effect on house prices and 48% about the ability of Government to manage population growth.

The report explains that when it comes to the impact of immigration on the quality of life in major cities, this is a factor that is not simply quantifiable in terms of increased population size and its impact and needs to be considered in the context of the character of individual cities and the politics of immigration in specific regions.

Melbourne, for example, has experienced the fastest rate of growth and ongoing public discussion of infrastructure deficits and rising house prices, yet the indication from the survey is that in Melbourne a relatively low proportion are of the view that the immigration is too high.

Indeed, in the 2018 survey some 33% to 35% of respondents in Melbourne indicated that they think that immigration is too high, substantially below the 44% to 45% national average.

Markus also pointed out that over the course of 11 years of surveying, the number of people who believe that multi-culturalism is good has remained steady. It has always been in the range of 83% to 86%.

The research indicates that most people regard multi-culturalism as a two-way process of change, involving adaptation by both the people already in Australia and those arriving from overseas.

Indeed, some 54% believe that immigrants should change their behaviours to be more like people already in Australia while 37% said ethnic minorities should receive Government assistance to maintain their customs and condition.

Just under one in five of those surveyed said they had experienced discrimination because of their religion, ethnicity or skin colour. That figure has not increased since 2016.

Politicians present their views on immigration as if they are speaking for the nation, for the Australian people. The reality is that their words are directed to that segment of voters in marginal electorates that supports their party, or that may be attracted to their party, or may be lost to their party.

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