Where Do Australians Stand on Immigration?

Immigration has figured centrally in political debates in Europe and the United States recently. It is bound to be crucial to the US presidential campaign and this week led long-time anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders to the prime ministership in the Netherlands.

Now, the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, is promising a temporary reduction in permanent migration if elected.

There are always unsavoury reasons for people to oppose more foreigners entering their home country. But on top of that, the post-COVID lockdowns housing shortages are giving people the sense that immigrants’ presence is hurting their weekly budget. 

So where do Australians stand on immigration?

What are Australians’ views on immigration? 

A poll released a couple of weeks ago would seem to give some insight into the question. However, the results suggest Australians themselves haven’t actually worked out what they think.

For instance, a strong majority (72% to 16%) believe immigration is making housing unaffordable for younger generations, and roughly the same say Australian cities are already too crowded. 

These views were more common in households experiencing financial stress.

But then again, Australians also say that immigrants are hard-working and strengthen the economy and the country as a whole (roughly 53% agree to 35% disagree).

A majority (50% to 35%) say that immigrants are a burden to the welfare system. But then again, the immigrants can’t all be dole bludging because they are taking away Australians’ jobs, say 46% of Australians (with 43% disagreeing).

One interpretation is that views on immigration are an epiphenomenon of housing affordability. If housing isn’t affordable, immigrants can feasibly be blamed for it.

But overall, Australians view immigration more favourably than Europeans. A poll released this month found 71% of EU citizens dissatisfied with migration to the bloc, with just 24% supportive.

For the record, the poll responses were split according to political party support and demographics in a way that won’t surprise news and politics followers. LNP and One Nation supporters were the most anti-immigration, then the ALP, then the Greens. A university degree and higher income was correlated with respondents being less opposed to immigration.

Thumbnail image courtesy @jrmotion and article image courtesy @starocker, both via Unsplash.

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