A clear majority of people in Australia support Muslims and asylum seekers being granted visas to come to the country, according to a new poll, but there is a shift in opinion.

Much has been made of recent research suggesting that many Australians are against Muslim immigration, but the new survey from Roy Morgan research shows that 58% are in favour and 33% against. However, support for Muslim immigration is down 7% from a year ago.

Muslim-GirlsThe poll also shows that 66% are in favour of asylum seekers while 25% are opposed and Australians also support both family reunion immigration with 74% in favour and 21% against while 77% want skilled immigration and just 18% opposed.

The poll also asked what people thought of current immigration levels and found that 40%, a rise of 3%, support it remaining about the same. Some 21%, a fall of 11%, want to see immigration levels increased.

This constitutes a clear majority of Australians at 61%, down 8%, who support immigration remaining the same or increasing while 34%, up 8%, want immigration levels reduced and 5% (unchanged) can't say.

Australians are split on the effect of immigrants on Australia's culture and way of life, but the research shows that there has been a negative shift in the last year, back to lower than recorded in 2010.

Some 32% of Australians believe immigration has a positive effect on Australia, down 5%, while 32% believe immigration has a negative effect, up 1% and 25% believe immigration has little effect, up 6%.

Most Australians want relatively moderate population growth with 34% in favour of a population of under 30 million by 2046, up 2%, while only 24%, down 6%, want a population of 35 million or more.

This is a shift away from growth levels that were seen as acceptable a year ago but nowhere near the 2010 levels when 56% wanted a population under 30 million in the year 2040.

Spokesman Gary Morgan said that the research makes it clear that the majority of Australians have not been affected by recent rhetoric calling for Muslims to be refused the right to live in Australia and even larger numbers support asylum seekers, family reunion and skilled workers.

The results of the poll are in stark contrast to a survey published in September by Essential Research which showed that 49% of Australians would support a ban on Muslim immigration.

Morgan pointed out that previous Roy Morgan surveys have consistently showed a majority of Australians support Muslim immigration. Some 65% of Australians supported Muslim immigration a year ago compared to 28% that opposed and in July 2010 54% of Australians supported Muslim immigration compared to 35% that were opposed.

'However, across a number of questions relating to immigration, and the ideal size for Australia, there has been a shift away from supporting growth and immigration over the last year. This is not back to the levels recorded in 2010 but does give a clear sense that Australians are becoming less open to immigration,' he explained.